Inspired by a true story, Netflix’s French film, The Stronghold (originally titled BAC Nord), investigates the life of a police brigade working rigorously to bust a drug network in Marseille, France. A film by Cédric Jimenez realistically captures the life of three Marseille cops who fight a two-front war. They face challenges not only from the illegal elements but also from within their own department. The conflict makes their journey interesting while also asking a crucial question. Is it worth making a sacrifice for a corrupt system?
‘The Stronghold’ Plot Summary
Three Marseille cops, Greg Cerva (Gilles Lellouche), Antoine (François Civil), and Yass (Karim Leklou) hustle day and night to catch drug peddlers. Greg wants to bust the distribution center in the northern neighborhoods (ghetto) of Marseille, France. However, the area is a well-protected stronghold run by bosses who will kill anyone to protect their turf. They are the law and the lawmakers, and no cops or politicians are allowed in the neighborhood.
It’s all laissez-faire, and Greg Cerva feels painfully helpless. Greg demands a strong police brigade to seize the ghetto, but his senior, Jérôme Bodin, has a chain of command to follow. He is duty-bound. Every time Greg picks up fights in the northern neighborhood while catching criminals, he is humiliated because the police can’t use their equipment without authority.
However, the opportunity strikes when kidnappers from the ghetto upload a video assaulting a person. The video catches media attention, and the bureaucracy wants to make waves. Jérôme hands over the case to Greg and gives him the power to enter the ghetto and make arrests.
Greg brings his soul-buddies and makes the team with Antoine and Yass. They start gathering intel to bust the distribution center. Antoine’s constant informant, Amel, demands 5 kg of hash to share the information. However, Jérôme refuses to give him drugs from the police vault. The team is on their own, but Greg finds a way to arrange the consignment.
‘The Stronghold’ Ending Explained
Greg and his team stole drugs from the customers while patrolling. Antoine weighed and stored the substance in his house, and when they reached the threshold, he handed over the consignment to Amel. She informed Antoine about a big shipment coming to the ghetto, and it could be their moment to seize the distribution network. The police brigade infiltrated the ghetto, and after a tough hustle, they finally accomplished their operation.
Two months later, IGPN (The General Inspectorate of the National Police) arrested Greg, Antoine, and Yass. They raided their houses and found traces of hash in Antoine’s abode. Lieutenant Yvon interrogated the cops and informed them about racketeering and drug trafficking charges against them. Greg explained to Yvon they confiscated drugs to pay the informant in exchange for the intel. However, when Yvon asked Antoine about the informer’s identity, he refused to snitch on Amel.
Greg revealed that his senior Jérôme knew about the operation. However, when the judge inquired the same, Jérôme backed off and lied. No one was ready to take the blame, and Greg and his team were in a fix.
The trio was sentenced to provisional detention and was put in solitary confinement until the investigation was over. In detention, Greg crazily requested the guard to let him talk to Jérôme. He even assaulted the guard after losing his sanity. Yass’ wife, Nora, requested other police officers involved in the operation to vouch for Greg, Antoine, and Yass. But everyone had a family and would have done anything to save themselves from the case.
Yass begged Antoine to disclose the informant’s identity, or they would lose their friend, Greg. Unwillingly, Antoine contacted Lieutenant Yvon and told the department about Amel and her whereabouts. The police arrested Amel, and after confirming the existence of the informant, the prosecutor decided to drop the charges of organized drug trafficking. The judge ended their provisional detention, and the trio was released.
In the end, Yass joined the Police Union. He defended his colleagues against the management. Antoine turned his badge in and started working as a prison nurse, looking after the inmates. While Greg Cerva was removed from the force, He became a municipal officer to support his livelihood.
The trio not only fought the criminals but against their police system that questioned the loyalty of his officers. Only if Jérôme Bodin had the nerves to vouch for his juniors could he have saved them and Amel as well. But in his cowardness, he lost three warriors who dared to clean the streets and save lives.
The Stronghold (or BAC Nord) is a 2021 French crime thriller directed by Cédric Jimenez. The film, selected for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, is streaming on Netflix.