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Is The Stronghold Based On A True Story?

Netflix is never a bad platform to check out if you're looking for a cool crime movie, especially because the streamer offers a well-equipped library of movies you can't find anywhere else. One of the newer arrivals in this front is "The Stronghold," a French thriller that you may also know by its original name, "BAC Nord." 

The movie is a story about three officers of the French special police unit called BAC — Greg (Gilles Lellouche), Antoine (François Civil), and Yass (Karim Leklou) — who work the tough streets of Marseille with their own brand of equally tough justice, and their battle against drug gangs ends up blurring the lines well beyond the point of no return. 

It's an interesting, well-executed premise, and while the movie's events are pretty wild, it almost makes you think that these events actually might have happened. So, what's the score here? Is "The Stronghold" based on a true story?

The Stronghold was inspired by a very real case

Why, yes, it turns out there is a true story behind "The Stronghold." However, it's worth noting that there's a significant difference between a true story and, well, "based on a true story." 

In a Cannes Festival interview, "The Stronghold" director Cédric Jimenez was quick to note that while the movie is very much based on a real 2012 case of a number of anti-terrorist BAC officers getting busted for all sorts of unsavory criminal antics, the movie itself is a work of fiction that merely draws inspiration from the real thing. 

"I grew up in these suburbs, so I know them well," Jimenez spoke of the people involved in the true story. "I understand the atmosphere of them and the relationship residents have with the police. The police don't have to do the same job as in a small town, the codes are very different. They are more like the people they deal with all day than the model citizens they should be. They took the case to the very top, all the way up to [Minister of the Interior] Manuel Valls, and this political takeover only fuelled the scandal further."

Though "The Stronghold" does take some liberties, Jimenez's preparation work involved discussing the case with three BAC officers who were involved with the real case — the ones whom Lellouche, Leklou and Civil essentially play in the movie. "They knew their behaviour wasn't perfect, but they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the case," Jimenez said. "They were put on trial for international drug trafficking following all the media attention and political hype. They were in over their heads and it was all very complicated."

"The Stronghold" is now available for streaming on Netflix.