Netflix AKA overview: Budding motion star Alban Lenoir excels once more

Over the previous few years, motion followers have been handled to a run of strong French programming on Netflix. Athena was one of many greatest motion pictures of 2022, Julien Leclercq’s Sentinelle is a strong darkish Olga Kurylenko thriller, Ganglands (and the film it was primarily based on, Braquers) are glorious crime fare, and Misplaced Bullet and its sequel outdo even the Quick and Livid franchise in relation to explosive vehicular motion.

The most recent entry on this burgeoning scene is AKA, a brand new Netflix pickup that stars Alban Lenoir as Adam Franco, a extremely expert special-ops agent confronted with one in every of his most harmful assignments but. Franco is implanted undercover on the safety group of a infamous crime lord (notorious soccer legend Eric Cantona, a troublesome man as soon as suspended from the game for kicking a fan). Franco makes a giant impression after rapidly rendering the top of safety unconscious after a verbal spat, and he turns into the bodyguard for the crime lord’s bullied son, educating the kid the right way to combat and defend himself.

Alban Lenoir kneels down to a child’s eye level as they practice on a child’s boxing dummy in AKA.

Picture: Nicolas Auproux/Netflix

It’s just about “Man on Fireplace lite” — one other film that appears impressed by Philip Nicholson’s 1980 novel Man on Fireplace. AKA isn’t an official adaptation of the e-book, like Élie Chouraqui’s 1987 French film model or Tony Scott’s stylized 2004 thriller. Nevertheless it has quite a bit in widespread with them: It’s a darkish crime story a couple of grizzled operative bonding with a toddler, and the lengths that operative will go when the kid is at risk. Whereas it lacks Scott’s directorial aptitude, AKA has one thing few different motion pictures have: Alban Lenoir.

Lenoir began his profession as a stunt performer, engaged on a wide range of French productions and on Pierre Morel’s 2008 game-changer Taken. After a sequence of small elements, he obtained his massive break in 2015’s French Blood, which screened at TIFF and noticed Lenoir nominated for a Lumières Award for Most Promising New Actor.

A couple of years after that got here Misplaced Bullet, a tightly contained vehicular thriller the place Lenoir performs Lino, a grasp mechanic and thief pulled right into a scheme by crooked cops and framed for homicide. So as to show his innocence, he has to search out the final remaining piece of proof from the crime — a single misplaced bullet.

Alban Lenoir makes a fist with his hand on an open car door in Lost Bullet 2

Lenoir as Lino in Misplaced Bullet 2
Picture: Julien Goldstein/Netflix

Misplaced Bullet and Misplaced Bullet 2 are among the many greatest motion motion pictures of the last decade, utilizing easy narratives to assemble elaborate, kinetic set items. The fistfights are brutal, the automotive chases are electrical (typically actually), and it’s a turbo-charged motion sequence paying homage to the early Quick and Livid motion pictures.

However Lenoir is the key sauce to those film’s recipes. He at all times brings a peaceful, intense, grounded power to his roles, with a face that screams, “This man has been in lots of fights.” Lenoir strikes like an athlete and hits like a truck, and whereas he performs extremely succesful characters expert in violence, he imbues them with an Everyman power. His characters get hit loads, and are steadily exhausted by the grueling fights they wind up in. In AKA, there’s a humorous scene the place Adam merely desires to take a nap, however retains getting interrupted by notifications and directions from his handler (who he communicates with by means of PlayStation voice chat, players).

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

Picture: Nicolas Auproux/Netflix

Alban Lenoir pushes a man down into a table filled with chemistry equipment in AKA.

Picture: Netflix

Lenoir can be a author, and he co-wrote the screenplays for each Misplaced Bullet motion pictures and AKA. AKA sees him reuniting with director and co-writer Morgan S. Dalibert, the cinematographer on the Misplaced Bullet motion pictures. (The 2 additionally beforehand labored collectively on 2005’s New World, Dalibert’s directorial debut.) Among the motion scenes stand out in AKA, notably a fancy brawl in a drug den and a combat exterior a membership proven by means of CCTV. Dalibert additionally repeatedly frames motion in the back of lengthy, slim pictures, including depth to a number of the sequences, and he takes enjoyment of telegraphing objects that might be utilized in a combat — lingering on a hook on a wall to get viewers enthusiastic about how will probably be brutally deployed.

AKA’s overarching narrative by no means actually gels — there’s an enormous conspiracy principle floating across the edges of the film, but it surely isn’t given sufficient time to actually come into focus. The film’s tempo additionally slows because it stops to provide some characters extra particular backstories, which is a disgrace, as a result of the actors have been already filling in lots of these gaps by means of their performances. Fortunately, Lenoir’s distinctive presence helps elevate the film to strong streaming fare.

AKA is at its greatest when it showcases Alban Lenoir, Motion Star, somewhat than its personal standing as a much less fashionable Man on Fireplace. It’s nonetheless price watching in case you’re within the new wave of French motion cinema, and one in every of its most intriguing stars. However in case you haven’t seen the Misplaced Bullet motion pictures but, undoubtedly prioritize these for glorious Lenoir motion.

AKA is streaming on Netflix now.


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