Following the overall reception of the 2019 French drama thriller film Street Flow, or Banlieusards, Netflix has returned with a direct sequel to the film in 2023, following the very same family featured in the first part. Taking place two years after the events of the first film, Street Flow 2 presents the lives of the Traore brothers, Demba, Soulaymann, and Noumoke, as they all have to go through some self-conflict and enforce changes in their lives to some degree. It is perhaps apt that a film with such a realistic and grim setting would not have everything positive, and so Street Flow 2 does have its fair share of violence and action as well.
Plot Summary: What is the film about?
At the beginning of Street Flow 2, we are taken to the exact time right after the end of the first part, as the three Traore brothers are in very different situations in life. Street Flow had essentially followed these Senegalese-French brothers and their mother, Khadijah, who was always scared for her sons. Living in a shady and poor suburb of Paris, where violence and crime are almost a part of daily life, the eldest brother, Demba, made money as a drug dealer. The second brother, Soulaymann, was very different from the first, as he pursued an education in law and wanted to have a good and honorable life. The youngest, Noumoke, faced all the brunt of growing up in an ever more radicalizing time, and so he preferred the life of Demba more than any respectable profession. But things turned wrong when Demba was shot down and heavily injured by his rival, leading him to spend months in the hospital. Enraged by this, Soulaymann picked up a gun and went over to the rival’s house, which caused trouble with the police. In order to save the otherwise kind and goodhearted brother, Noumoke took the fall for him, getting himself caught with the gun, and was sentenced to six months in juvenile prison.
At the beginning of Street Flow 2, Demba is seen waking up in the hospital and then recovering from his injuries over the next many months. Soulaymann has completed his studies and has started work at a renowned law firm. Noumoke faces hardships in prison, but he finally seems to control his life after getting released and is now back in school, pursuing education. Two years pass, and Khadijah is mostly at peace with her sons for the time being. However, trouble, or rather, some sort of crisis, keeps awaiting each of the Traore brothers as they grow unsettled over their current lives. Noumoke cannot help but be dragged into a local gang rivalry, and a classmate of his from the rival gang, Anis, keeps riling him up. Although Soulaymann is working at a reputed law firm, he is dissatisfied as he feels stuck doing a desk job instead of getting any real court action. Demba often remembers the trauma that he had to face during his attack, and although the man has now left the drug gang to run his own successful insulation business, the urge for revenge soon takes over his mind.
What does Noumoke have to deal with?
Being the youngest in his family, Noumoke seems to struggle to fit in both inside and outside his home. Although the members of his family are very loving and caring towards him, especially after the boy seems to have learned his lesson from prison time, they probably do not completely understand his situation. The outside world that Noumoke has to grow up in is riddled with gangs and violence, even among teenagers. The neighborhood where the Traore family lives is a comparatively down-trodden suburb of Paris, where people of multiple ethnicities and mostly migrant families stay. Most of the petty problems and fights between the youth gangs seem to be because of race and ethnicity, because of a very strong sense of being different from each other.
The first such fight takes place inside Noumoke’s classroom when Anis instigates him, because of which both are expelled from school. Noumoke hides this from his family, except for Soulaymann, who knows about it but does not tell the others. There is a sense of trust as well as misunderstanding between these two brothers because of what happened two years ago. The elder brother has an uneasy feeling that Noumoke had perhaps thought that Soulaymann would tell the authorities about how it was he who had shot the gun. But when Noumoke took the fall for his elder brother and even went to prison for six months, Soulaymann did not tell anyone the truth. Perhaps because of this, the elder brother now keeps Noumoke’s expulsion from school a secret, but then the past events also seem to have wedged some difference between them.
When Anis and his gang fire explosions and create a ruckus at the apartment complex, even beating up the teenagers there, Noumoke wants to instantly go and help his brethren. However, the boy is unable to leave his house because of Demba’s strict warning. In school, Noumoke’s expulsion is revoked when his very understanding and helpful teacher convinces the principal that education is very important for the boy. The teacher then gives the boy a specific novel to read, Jack London’s Martin Eden. According to her, the book should teach him that he can turn his life around only with his own efforts. But then, unlike the protagonist of the novel, Noumoke seems to be in love with not a richer and more educated woman but with a girl from his neighborhood. This girl, Sofia, is even more involved in the violent activities of the gang, and she is often at the forefront of fights.
In order to take revenge on Anis and his gang for their attack on Sofia and her friends, Noumoke plans to beat them up at a bus stop. But instead of attacking any gang member, they thrash an innocent friend of Anis, which again leads to retaliation from the other side. Anis and his gang desperately search for Noumoke, making the latter have to hide, and as a response, Sofia gets hold of a gun from Demba’s old drug associate, Farid. When the two teenage gangs have a face-off and terrible fighting starts, Sofia fires the gun in the air, dispersing everyone but painting a threat on herself from the police. During this whole night, Noumoke stays out of his home and returns only the next morning, mostly scared that his brothers will reprimand him for his actions. Noumoke’s plan is to return home when his brothers and his mother have left for work. But the boy does not know that the ever-caring mother, Khadijah, had worried for him the entire night and had even passed away inside her room. By the time Noumoke returns home, his mother is no more, and the boy is the first to find her in this situation.
How is Soulaymann influenced by Khadijah’s principles?
Soulaymann was understandably the closest to Khadijah because he had always been very different from his brothers and more interested in building a good life and career with honesty. As Soulaymann’s heated decision to shoot a gun earlier was probably still unknown to the mother, she had the highest hopes for him. But Soulaymann let his mother down in a different way when he took up his first case in court. After months of being stuck with paperwork inside his law firm office, Soulaymann was finally given the chance to represent a client during a court hearing.
The man excitedly took up the offer, appeared in court for the first time, and then also won the case for his client with the help of his intellect and skills. However, in this case, he had to defend a man who had been accused of domestic violence. Although the man was ready to confess that he had brutally assaulted his wife, Soulaymann advised him, as his defense lawyer, to say nothing in court. This advice worked, and the man was now free, with all charges dropped. When Soulaymann excitedly returns home and tells his family about this first success, Khadijah wants to know about his case. But when the mother hears that her son basically let a vile man walk free, she claims that Soulaymann should not take up such cases.
Perhaps because of this very advice and to honor his mother’s memory after her death, Soulaymann is seen taking up cases that fight for the justice of women and the helpless. When Noumoke’s friend Sofia is arrested by the police for having fired a gun, the police unleash brutality upon her mother without any considerable reason. Towards the end of Street Flow 2, Soulaymann files an official complaint against the police because of this, and he is also seen on a TV show talking about how the government and police were, in an indirect manner, giving rise to unnecessary violence and animosity among the public.
Why is Demba unsettled in his life?
Demba’s life has starkly changed in these two or so years, as the man has now completely left violence and drug gangs behind. It is his earlier gang associate, Farid, who now runs the business, and even though the latter wants help from Demba, he refuses to get involved. But there are troubles in his insulation business as well, when a rich client agrees to strike a deal with his business to buy material for a big company. However, this client, Mr. Mercier, then suddenly changes his decision and tries to demand more money from Demba to secure the deal. Making matters worse, Demba’s associate Frank has been unjustly asking for a raise as well, and it does not take the man very long to understand that Mercier and Frank were trying to extort money from him together.
Nonetheless, Demba tries his best to stay away from all negative thoughts and starts to find love in a new employee at his company. The woman, Djeneba, is divorced and a single mother to a 10-year-old boy, but Demba is not deterred by any of this. He grows close to the woman and also does not mind that Djeneba is a practicing Muslim who will not get physically intimate with him outside of wedlock. After some time, Demba decides to start a serious relationship with Djeneba, even leading to marriage, but then something else distracts his mind.
The corrupt police officer who keeps trying to play the drug gangs against each other meets with Demba and gives him an important piece of information. He reveals that when Demba was shot down two years ago, there was also someone else involved in the whole plan. Demba learns that, along with his rivals Sahli and Abdou, the third man behind the plan was Abdel, whom Demba had always treated almost like a brother of his. This information, along with photographic proof of Abdel’s betrayal, really eats away at Demba’s mind, constantly pushing him towards an urge for revenge. But the death of Khadija temporarily gets in the way, and the brothers return to their homeland in Senegal to perform her last rites.
What happens to Demba in the end?
During the Traore brothers’ visit to their village in Senegal, they learn how their mother, Khadija, donated for a school to be built at the place. Since the school is not in its best state, the brothers renovate it themselves and take up the responsibility of running the school. They also visit the House of Slaves in Dakar, and while spending contemplative time at the door of no return, the brothers imagine their mother walking into the ocean from where people from the African continent were brutally taken away as slaves centuries ago. Although the two losses are definitely not the same, for the brothers, their mother will surely not return, just like the people who were taken away.
Upon their return to Paris, Noumoke is seen to end his rivalry with Anis and his gang after an elder tells them about the banality of such gangs and fights. Soulaymann returned to his profession as a lawyer and now fights for helpless people. But Demba is unable to side with good like his brothers, and instead, the man gives in to his thirst for revenge. After beating up Mercier and Frank for trying to extort him, the man goes after the traitor. With the help of his cousin, who was still running a gang, Demba kills Abdel and takes his revenge. He gets Farid by his side during the act since the two have the same enemy, but Farid also has different plans for Demba. The new leader of the drug gang had been disrespected by Demba a couple of times, and when the man raised his hand on Farid in front of everyone, the leader decided to kill Demba.
Farid finally sneaks up on Demba when the latter visits a public park to meet with Djeneba and her son. The corrupt police officer also reaches the place, perhaps because he knows that a confrontation like this is about to take place. Street Flow 2‘s ending reveals a loud gunshot, and it seems like Farid kills Demba in this last scene. However, it can also be that the police officer manages to stop this, and someone else might have been shot. If Netflix ever agrees to a third part for the film, then this situation will become clear in the future.