Antwerp, Belgium. The lives of four small-time drug dealers spin out of control when they steal a shipment of cocaine, triggering a full out war between an Amsterdam drug lord and a ruthless Colombian cartel.
"Style over substance"
'Gangsta' tells the tale of four friends who are out to make a quick buck. What better way than to deal coke in Antwerp, Belgium, the so-called coke capital of Europe. In doing so the four dealers trigger a war between them, two Amsterdam drug lords and a Colombian cartel.
Adamo (Matteo Simoni), the main character and his three buddies look and behave like gangsters but are far from it. To them their new way of making fast money is a fantasy and that's what directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah want to make you feel. They glorify the whole gangster life and it shines through in the distinctive look of the film. It's a different take on the classic gangster movies but that doesn't mean it's better. While 'Scarface' is being referenced a couple of times the movie has more in common with Michael Bay's 'Pain & Gain'.
It all looks and sounds flashy but there's little underneath that shiny surface. The plot is rather simple and the characters are flat and sometimes downright annoying. The directors pull all sorts of tricks (visual and with the narrative) to blow you away but eventually it's overkill. El Arbi and Fallah have shown with their two previous movies ('Image' and 'Black') that they're capable of making dark gritty movies. I get that they want to show that they have more up their sleeve (the duo wants to break through in the US) but sometimes less is more. Take away half an hour of the runtime and it would have been easier to digest.
Although all the blitz and glam can't hide the shortcomings of the movie it's still quite a fun ride. I can see it doing well among youngsters.
Kudos to Matteo Simoni who really shines as Adamo. Simoni who is known more for his comedy parts in Belgium is quite impressive. Debuting Nora Gharib is a gem and Dutch rapper Ali B is a great addition as the twisted Hassan Kamikaze.