Review: Saloum

Last year I watched Sakho and Mangane (2019), a French language Senegalese cop show set in Dakar, created by Jean Luc Herbulot and starring Yann Gael and Issaka Sawadogo. It utilizes the old but effective trope of two detectives with generational and philosophical differences, forced to work together by circumstance or superiors, and have to figure out how to make it work. Both leads are great and Yan Gael is electric as the younger of the two detectives. While Sakho & Mangane is a detective show it also mixes in some supernatural elements.

Fast forward and show creator Herbulot has a stylish, genre bending cult hit on his hands. Saloum follows three legendary mercenaries, known as the Bangui Hyenas, after a job. They run into some problems with their escape and hideout in a small, out of the way, resort town where things aren’t quite what they seem at first.

The three central leads, Yann Gael, Roger Sallah, and Mentor Ba, are everything you could want: stylish, cool, tough, bad asses who demand your attention and hold it. Basically what I’m saying is I want an entire series of movies about their exploits and in a just world we would have them.

But there are also nice little character (and cultural) moments too. A deaf woman is surprised to learn that all three of the men know sign language. Which indicates that they all have spent at least some time working in mines in their past. 

When they land at their hideout destination we get introduced to other characters who are staying at the remote resort. Personalities will clash, secrecrets will be threatened to be exposed, and conflicts will brew. Things come to an explosive head about halfway through when some of these things come fully to the surface. This is also the moment when the movie veers into a totally direction. One that I won’t spoil here. 

Saloum is a total blast. It has great characters, a cool story, and it comes in under 90 minutes so it leaves you wanting more. Saloum lands in my top 10 for the year so far. 

Positive/highly recommended

Saloum is streaming on Shudder and current streaming info can be found here.

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