FANTASTIC FEST: Saloum (2021)

Bangui’s Hyenas, an elite mercenary team, have already extracted a drug dealer and his treasure from the chaos of a coup and are heading straight for the payout in Dakar. Yet as much as we love it when a plan comes together, we also seem to love a movie where things fall apart. And the Hyenas have found themselves stranded in the Sine-Saloum Delta, a group of isolated islands filled with local legends and dark magic. Now, the police — and maybe much worse things — are coming down on them.

The Hyenas — Chaka (Yann Gael), Rafa (Roger Sallah) and Minuit (Mentor Ba) — have survived so many wars and missions thanks to their skill and trust in one another. But this time feels different. That’s because it seems like Chaka, their leader, is hiding something. And as they stay within a small lodging camp until they can figure out their escape, the mute Awa (Evelyne Ily Juhen) threatens to expose them to the police unless she can go on the run with them.

Yet by the end, this movie goes from Italian western to American action to a supernatural take on Predator. What a strange ride this movie takes you on and the effects totally work, feeling as real as the gunplay at the start of the film.

Saloum is playing Fantastic Fest. When it begins streaming, we’ll update this post.

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