Sick of a liberal justice system sliding France into lawlessness, ruthless Inspector Scatti (Michel Serrault) leads a band of like-minded cops, dubbed the "Brotherhood of Enforcers", on a secret vigilante crusade. Their brutal assaults on pimps, pushers and other criminals are investigated by upstanding Inspector Grindel (Alain Delon). Grindel empathizes to a degree with the rogue cops frustration with the system but recoils at their murderous methods. He resolves to bring them to justice, not realizing that the group includes some of his own men.
Although based on a novel Frederic Fajarde, Ne reveillez pas un flic qui dort (Let Sleeping Cops Lie) more or less recycles themes Clint Eastwood dealt with more than a decade earlier in Magnum Force (1973). Here French superstar/producer/co-screenwriter Alain Delon reteams with director/co-writer Jose Pinheiro, with whom he made the tacky misfire Parole de Flic (1985) a.k.a. Cop's Honour, for one of the iconic actor's last big action-thrillers. Like their previous collaboration the plot pits Delon's dogged detective against a band of ultra-fascistic rogue cops. Inspired by real life stories about Argentinean death squads, the script is both nihilistic and simplistic, envisioning both far right and left wing forces as locked in a terminal struggle with a lot of sloganeering about liberal judges, bureaucrats and criminals running riot.
From the late Seventies onward Alain Delon's often self-scripted star vehicles took on an increasingly reactionary stance reflecting the infamously outspoken actor's personal political views. Come the Eighties he looked out of step with the times. With Let Sleeping Cops Lie more than one critic noted the irony in Delon of all people casting himself as the scourge of right-wing fanatics. Failing to provide its fascistic villains with a clear-cut ideology the film reduces them to one-dimensional psychopaths. Nevertheless many critics at the time singled out a full-throttle performance by the chameleon-like Michel Serrault as one of the film's few merits. As was the case with Parole de Flic, Pinheiro's direction proves inconsistent, alternating moments of cinema du look-like stylishness, sluggish inert drama and the kind of crass sadism that was once Michael Winner's stock-in-trade. You get to see a pimp castrated, a gay gangster blown up with what looks like an exploding dildo (!) and a police informant dying on a merry-go-round accidentally shooting children at the park. All scenes of extreme violence by then commonplace in the kind of Hollywood films Delon evidently sought to compete with but which French critics viewed as deeply distasteful. Seasoned Euro-Crime fans will likely prove more receptive to the film's ghoulish comic book excess. An otherwise shaky enterprise is just about held together by Delon's reliable steely-eyed charisma playing his usual unflappable badass and debonair babe magnet first seen roused out of bed by his decades younger gorgeous supermodel girlfriend. The sexy bastard.