Netflix AKA review: Budding action star Alban Lenoir shines again

In recent years action fans have been treated to a number of solid French programs on Netflix. Athena was one of best movies of 2022Julien Leclercqs Sentinel is a solid dark Olga Kurylenko thriller, gang lands (and the movie it was based on, Braquers) are excellent detective stories, and Lost Ball and its sequel surpass even the Fast and Furious franchise when it comes to explosive vehicle action.

The latest entry in this burgeoning scene is AKA, a new Netflix trailer starring Alban Lenoir as Adam Franco, a highly skilled special agent facing one of his most dangerous assignments yet. Franco goes undercover into the security team of a notorious crime lord (notorious soccer legend Eric Cantona, a tough guy once suspended from the sport). because I kicked a fan). Franco makes a big impression after quickly knocking out the security chief after a verbal argument, and he becomes the bodyguard of the crime boss’s bullied son, teaching the kid how to fight and defend himself.

Photo: Nicolas Auproux/Netflix

It’s quite a lot “Man on fire lite” – another film that appears to be inspired by Philip Nicholson’s 1980 novel man on fire. AKA isn’t an official adaptation of the book like Élie Chouraqui’s 1987 French film adaptation or Tony Scott’s 2004 stylized thriller. But it has a lot in common with them: it’s a dark crime story about a grizzled agent who becomes attached to a child and beyond how much this agent will do if the child is in danger. While Scott’s directing talent is lacking, AKA has something that few other films have: Alban Lenoir.

Lenoir began his career as a stunt performer, working on various French productions and 2008’s Pierre Morel’s Game-Changer out of stock. After a series of smaller roles, he had his big break in 2015 French bloodwhich was shown on TIFF and for which Lenoir was nominated for a Lumières Award for Most Promising New Actor.

A few years later that came Lost Ball, a gritty vehicle thriller in which Lenoir plays Lino, a master mechanic and thief who is implicated in a scheme by corrupt cops and framed for murder. To prove his innocence, he must find the last remaining piece of evidence in the crime – a single lost bullet.

Lenoir as Lino in Lost Bullet 2

Photo: Julien Goldstein/Netflix

Lost Ball And Lost Ball 2 belong to the best action movies of the decade by using simple narratives to construct elaborate, kinetic set pieces. The fistfights are brutal, the chases are electrifying (sometimes in the truest sense of the word), and it’s a turbocharged action series reminiscent of the early Fast and Furious films.

But Lenoir is the secret ingredient to this film’s recipes. He always infuses his roles with a calm, intense, and grounded energy, with a face that screams, “This guy’s been in a lot of fights.” Lenoir moves like an athlete and hits like a truck, and while he’s extremely capable, violent plays characters, he gives them the energy of everyone. Its characters are hit a lot and are often exhausted from the grueling battles they find themselves in. In AKAthere’s a funny scene where Adam just wants to take a nap but keeps getting interrupted by notifications and instructions from his caregiver (who he communicates with via PlayStation Voice chat, gamers).

Photo: Nicolas Auproux/Netflix

Image: Netflix

Lenoir is also a writer and co-wrote the screenplays for the two Lost Bullet films and AKA. AKA sees him reunited with director and co-writer Morgan S. Dalibert, cinematographer on the Lost Bullet films. (The two worked together back in 2005 New worldDalibert’s directorial debut.) Some of the action scenes stand out AKA, specifically a complex brawl at a drug den and a brawl outside a club that was videotaped. Dalibert also frequently frames the action behind long, narrow takes, adding depth to some sequences, and enjoys telegraphing objects used in a fight – dwelling on a hook on the wall to move the Getting viewers excited about how to do it is used brutally.

AKAThe overarching narrative never really succeeds – a huge conspiracy theory circulates around the edges of the film, but it’s not given enough time to really come into focus. The pace of the film also slows down as it stops giving some characters more specific backstories, which is a shame as the actors have already filled in many of those gaps through their performances. Luckily, Lenoir’s unique presence helps make the film a solid streaming offering.

AKA is at its best when it showcases Alban Lenoir, the action star, rather than his own status as less stylish man on fire. It’s still worth watching if you’re interested in the new wave of French action cinema and one of its most intriguing stars. But if you haven’t seen the Lost Bullet movies, you should definitely prefer the movies with the excellent Lenoir action.

AKA is now streaming on Netflix.

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