Honesty and corruption become fluid terms when a cop-on-the-take encounters more than the usual dose of stuff worth taking in “Gomez & Tavares.” Well-cast actioner with an undercurrent of tough-guy humor is aimed at the youth market, but boasts more than enough intrigue to hold adult interest. If this tailored-to-entertain pic — which pairs stand-up comic Titoff and rapper/thesp Stomy Bugsy — follows in the big B.O. shoes of “La Beuze” and “Chouchou” locally, pundits may conclude there’s a trend afoot.
Helmer Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s enjoyably overblown “Pretty Things” (2001) — from the novel by Virginie Despentes (“Baise-moi”) — gave Marion Cotillard a glorious chance to shine as twins at odds with fame. In his sophomore outing, he continues his penchant for gung-ho treatment of high-concept fare.
Amiable plainclothes cop Max Tavares (Titoff) gets kickbacks and protection money from half the smalltime crooks in Marseilles. In turn, he provides a steady percentage of payoffs to “Uncle” (crusty vet Jean Yanne), the equally amiable crook who more or less raised him.
Max has just cracked a huge case involving armed robbers when he’s assigned a new partner, Carlos Gomez (Bugsy), an unflappable hardnose from Paris who’s a one-man corruption-free zone. Gomez won’t stand for Tavares’ shakedown practices, which puts a crimp in the latter’s dealings and fails to placate Uncle.
When a 62-year-old accountant is found hanging from the rafters of his living room with a four-leaf clover in his nostril, the dynamic duo are drawn into a case that calls for some fancy footwork with Internal Affairs. The dead man’s estranged daughter, Paulina (Elodie Navarre), happens to be a stripper.
Who-can-you-trust scenario has its fair share of surprises, some good fights and very good stunt work in a finale at sea. Though nothing on display here is terribly nuanced, the women’s roles are as meaty as the men’s, with enjoyable perfs from Noemie Lenoir as Gomez’s sister, Gina, and from Navarre as the stripper whose brain cells are as shapely as her breasts. Widescreen lensing is restlessly edited to the edges of kinetic tolerance.