Blood Coast Season 1 – Everyone is dirty in this gritty French thriller series

SERIES REVIEW – Netflix’s newest series, Blood Coast, tells a dark and gripping story from the city of Marseille. In the six-part series, we see the relentless battle between police and French gangsters, created by renowned French director and actor Olivier Marchal. The series uniquely captures life in the French city, where the sea, the sunshine and the sounds of the streets are all part of the narrative.




Olivier Marchal, who has been working in the film industry for 30 years and is also a former police officer, has now come up with a brand new six-episode series. In Marseille, determined police officers chase unstoppable gangsters. They are all teetering on the edge, battling their own demons. The story is brutal and effective, but at the same time it lacks innovation and a subtler, more complex storytelling.



The atmosphere of the South Sea city comes to life in Marseille’s Countdown


The name itself has some magical power. It carries in its name the burning passion between man and nature. In the performance and in the local language, there is a generosity of spirit, a special atmosphere of seafaring. It is surrounded by the sounds of life. The sounds of horns, engines, birds, and sometimes even swearing add colour to the dialogue. The streets speak and the wind carries the unique atmosphere of the Mediterranean and Provence. The voices are those of those who clink glasses, walk, make deals, gossip, create, cuddle and sometimes get annoyed. The sea is bright blue, the colours of the jersey of the Olympique de Marseille football team. The golden glow of the sun, the yellow of pastis and panisse crown this colourful palette.

But the shimmering grey of fish scales and the cool grey of shipyard metal are also part of Marseille’s vibrant, pulsating and exciting life. You’ll be caught up in a sweet fever that everyone can get, while the Bonne Mère (Good Mother – Marseille’s patron saint) watches over the locals from above. Marseille invites us to travel and fantasize through the images of this Netflix series. Some people long to immerse themselves in the dark side of the city, where the smell of sulphur can be smelt.

At the same time, some people are afraid to take action for fear of losing their lives over a mistake. Marseille, a city of police turmoil, an empire of bloodthirsty gangsters, a centre of greedy corruption – everyone wants something, and most often at the expense of others. The media and fiction have created simplistic images, often too simplistic, of this exciting and complex city in the south of France, creating a mythology deeply embedded in people’s imaginations.



A missing criminal returns with fire and brimstone to take down everyone


Olivier Marchal, the creator and director who himself served in the Versailles police force, often adopts a darker and less refined perspective in his work, whether in Marseille or elsewhere. Now he’s back on Netflix and in Marseille – where we’ve seen his work before, after Bronx in 2020 – this time with the series Blood Coast. A mysterious, ruthless and outlaw criminal is tearing up the neighbourhoods of Marseille, spilling fire and blood and drugs all over them, enraging the existing criminal networks.

A team of police officers, albeit using dubious methods, work closely together to hunt down the gangsters who will stop at nothing. Their boss is often called, but soon he will be unable to help them. Chasing the wild gangster, machine gun fire floods the city. Along the way they are confronted with ghosts from the past, demons to exorcise, mistakes to right and transgressions to commit.

In between, there are betrayals, deaths, corrupt lawyers… so the usual crime themes are here too. And the French film noir recipe for action is the usual from the former cops of French filmmaking: testosterone-fuelled action, tense narrative, screwed-up, drug-addled, hopeless lives. Anyone who speaks French, watches the series in French and knows French argot will notice that the characters sometimes use somewhat archaic, outdated expressions, such as “poulets”.

For those who watch the series with Hungarian subtitles, it doesn’t matter that the language is a bit “OK boomer” in a French way, the main thing is that the cast is convincing and dynamic, and completely authentic. Tewfik Jallab as the protagonist Lyès Benamar, for example, is very convincing as the macho to the extreme, headstrong and out-of-control team leader cop, who somehow always manages to be intelligent and compromising when the situation calls for it and when the situation calls for it. Far from being a ‘clean-cut’ character, the corruption necessary for the ‘good of the city’ also overshadows his work. And Jeanne Goursaud is the new policewoman whose true intentions no one can see through. Idir Azougli plays the young local drug lord and mafia boss, Olivier Barthelemy is the slightly mafia but sympathetic constable, and the exotic-looking Lani Sogoyou is the gorgeous local female cop, former lover and good friend of the protagonist. One of the most inventive characters, the tough, rough and gruff Tarek Hamadi, also known as the “Indian”, Moussa Maaskri, is a real tough guy who can be a bully at the most unexpected moments, or even bark at the most prominent female characters, and at other times, he can strike fear into the hearts of the audience with his mere presence. And finally, the “returned” criminal, thought to be dead, Franck Murillo (Nicolas Duvauchelle), brings his deeply drawn character, driven by blind vengeance and with a very attractive presence. They are all memorable and dynamic characters in the Olivier Marchal series.



The forgotten “character”


The series therefore features a number of exciting and interesting characters, but one of the weaknesses of Countdown Marseille is that it fails to focus enough on the ‘title character’, the city itself, Marseille, even though it is ‘he’ who should be captivating the audience. The city is sometimes lost in the dramatic relationships between the characters and the conflicts between the hostile brothers. The streets seem empty, giving way only to impetuous and unbridled bloody clashes, which are sometimes somewhat exaggerated.

Because the streets of Marseille will soon be covered in blood, whether it is the death of a man with too many enemies, a young boy who is tortured into talking and then brutally murdered, or a minor child who is subjected to even more perverse horrors. In reality, no one in Massilia (Marseille) wants this ‘peace’ and, paradoxically, the series does not show enough of the characters or the city’s setting. Marseille is merely a ‘postcard’ used to attract foreign audiences.

Of course, this hard-boiled crime series still works: despite a few exaggerated twists and turns, Blood Coast delivers real brutal action, thrills and great entertainment that should give fans of the genre a lot of pleasure.

Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-



Blood Coast Season 1

Direction - 7.8
Actors - 7.3
Story - 7.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 8.6
Ambience - 8.4



"Blood Coast" Season 1 is a dark French crime series where cops and gangsters fight it out on the streets of Marseille. The great characters are a thrill to watch and the atmosphere of the city is well portrayed, although there are some shortcomings in the storytelling. This is a real adrenaline-fuelled series for those who like a thriller with a twist.

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines – including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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