Netflix AKA review: Budding action star Alban Lenoir is brilliant again

Over the past few years, action fans have been enjoying a host of signature French shows on Netflix. Athena one of best movies of 2022by Julien Leclercq sentinel is a dark horror film by Olga Kurylenko, Ganglands (and the movie based on it, Braquers) is great crime fare, and lost ammo and its sequel goes beyond even the Fast and Furious series when it comes to explosive vehicle action.

The latest entry in this growing scene is aka, a new Netflix pickup film starring Alban Lenoir as Adam Franco, a highly skilled agent facing one of his most dangerous missions yet. Franco is included in the secret security team of a notorious crime boss (infamous football legend Eric Cantona, a tough guy who was once suspended from sports). for kicking a fan). Franco makes a strong impression after quickly knocking the head of security unconscious after a verbal argument, and he becomes a bodyguard for the crime boss’s bullied son, teaching the kid how to fight and defend themselves.

Alban Lenoir kneels at eye level of a child as they practice on a kid's boxing dummy in AKA.

Photo: Nicolas Auproux/Netflix

it’s pretty much “The Man on Fire” lite” — another film seemingly inspired by Philip Nicholson’s 1980 novel man on fire. aka not an official adaptation of the book, like Élie Chouraqui’s 1987 French film version or Tony Scott’s 2004 stylized thriller. But it has a lot in common with them: It’s a dark crime story about a gray-haired agent’s relationship with a child, and the length of time that agent will spend when the child is in danger. dangerous. Although it lacks Scott’s directing flair, aka something few other movies have: Alban Lenoir.

Lenoir began his career as a stuntman, working in numerous French productions and in Pierre Morel’s 2008 game-changing film. Take. After a series of small parts, he got his big break in 2015 French bloodscreened at TIFF and saw Lenoir nominated for a Lumières Award for Most Promising New Actor.

A few years later came lost ammo, a tight-knit vehicle thriller in which Lenoir plays Lino, a master mechanic and thief who is drawn into a scheme by crooked police and charged with murder. To prove his innocence, he must find the last piece of evidence left over from the crime – a missing bullet.

Alban Lenoir punches open car door in Lost Bullet 2

Lenoir as Lino in Lost Bullet 2
Photo: Julien Goldstein/Netflix

lost ammo And Missing Bullet 2 among best action movie of the decade, using simple narratives to build complex, kinetic works. The fights are brutal, the car chases are electric (sometimes literally), and it’s a gripping action series reminiscent of the early Fast and Furious movies.

But Lenoir is the secret sauce for these movies’ recipes. He always brings a calm, intense, well-founded energy to his roles, with a face that screams, “This guy fights a lot.” Lenoir moves like an athlete and hits like a truck, and while playing highly skilled, violent characters, he infuses them with People’s energy. His characters get hit a lot and are often exhausted from the grueling battles they engage in. akathere’s a funny scene where Adam just wants to take a nap, but is constantly interrupted by notifications and instructions from his controller (with whom he communicates via PlayStation voice chat, gamers ).

Alban Lenoir walks through a long corridor while holding an assault rifle in AKA.

Photo: Nicolas Auproux/Netflix

Alban Lenoir pushes a man down onto a table filled with chemical equipment at AKA.

Image: Netflix

Lenoir is also a writer, and he co-wrote the screenplays for both Lost Bullet and aka. aka saw him reunite with director and co-writer Morgan S. Dalibert, the cinematographer on Lost Bullet. (The two also previously worked together on the 2005 film New worldDalibert’s directorial debut.) Some action scenes stand out in aka, especially the complicated scuffle in the drug den and the fight outside the club shown on CCTV. Dalibert also constantly frames the action behind long and narrow shots, adding depth to some scenes, and he enjoys signaling objects to be used in a battle — hanging on a hook on the wall to get viewers excited about how it will be brutally deployed.

akaThe film’s overarching story is never really engaging — there’s a vast conspiracy theory floating around the corners of the film, but it doesn’t have enough time to really focus on. The pace of the movie also slows down when it stops to give some of the characters more concrete stories, which is unfortunate, because the actors fill so much of that void through the performance. their acting. Thankfully, Lenoir’s unique presence helped elevate the film to steady streaming ticket prices.

aka is at its best when it introduces Alban Lenoir, the Action Star, instead of its own less stylish status man on fire. It’s still worth a look if you’re interested in the new wave of French action cinema and one of its hottest stars. But if you haven’t seen the movie The Missing Bullet, prioritize Lenoir’s excellent action movies.

aka currently streaming on Netflix.

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