Bureau de change – the French spy drama is back, now with added explosions

Sam Delaney is gripped by French spy drama The Bureau’s revved-up third season. You don't have to be sophisticated and clever to enjoy it, but it helps.

I’ve written about glorious French spy drama The Bureau before. When it first started I observed on these pages that it was a bit less action packed and altogether more enigmatic than the average spy drama. No neck-breaking, no explosions, no shoes with knives in them or watches that help undo women’s dresses. The Bureau was a bit more intelligent and nuanced and slow-burning. And that’s what made me feel so smug about watching it. I mean, of course, I feel smug about watching any foreign subtitled drama. But The Bureau was so particularly complex and ponderous that I felt extra-specially self-satisfied about watching it and then telling people that I was watching it.

If you are less sophisticated and clever than me – which is quite possible – then you might have read that first review a few years back and thought something like: “Nah, not for me mate. I bloody hate complicated foreign muck like that. Give me an episode of Homes Under The Hammer with Dion Dublin any day of the week, fanks very much for asking.” And I wouldn’t have blamed you, I don’t suppose. I didn’t exactly make it sound accessible to the average dope in the street.

Well, if you are an average dope in the street then I have very good news for you. The Bureau is now on to season three and they have revved the whole thing up into an action-packed dazzler of a spy caper that even you can enjoy. Oh, it’s still got all the Gallic cool, the sexily consumed filterless fags and the enigmatic shrugs of the original series. The plot is still complex and suspense driven. But now the whole thing moves along at the cracking pace of a Bourne Identity or a James Bond movie. There are fights, shoot-outs, explosions and daring escapes in every episode. It is a thrill ride, yes, but there is a realism too.

It’s still got all the Gallic cool, the sexily consumed filterless fags and the enigmatic shrugs of the original series

The spies are not superheroes, jumping from burning buildings or fighting gangs of assassins single-handed. They are seemingly ordinary bureaucrats, fighting a very real war against terrorists and foreign intelligence agencies. When they do find themselves out in the field, kidnapped in Syria by Isis or undercover with Mossad in Azerbaijan, they are as scared as any ordinary human would be. An agent in a tricky predicament who is actually bricking themselves with terror is not something you see in the average spy show. But The Bureau has never been an average spy show. It’s always been clever and cool. Now it’s exciting and explosive too. I might feel slightly less smug now the show has sold out a bit. But the truth is I enjoy watching it more than ever.

The third season of The Bureau is available to watch on Amazon Prime now