|A scared street kid – Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) – enters prison without friends or any real sense of the complex and brutal rules that govern his new world. Easy prey, he’s given an ultimatum by the ruthless Corsican crime lord César Luciani (Niels Arestrup): kill or be killed. The Corsicans take advantage of Malik’s Arab background in an attempt to assassinate a political prisoner who’s under the protection of the prison’s Arab gangs. Malik, a fast learner, soon navigates the intricacies of the lethal alliances and hatches his own schemes that propel his rise to power. The film’s visual style counterpoints and highlights the movement of the plot.
“Sweeping and precisely observed…with transparent compassion but none of the sentimentalizing that softens and cheapens too many mob stories.” (New York Times)