The latest Netflix French action-thriller AKA gives the impression that it is a movie to watch while waiting for better ones. While the plot is familiar and doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary, the storytelling and thrilling action sequences make AKA an entertaining watch and worth checking out for diehard fans of the genre.
AKA is a collaborative project between stuntman-turned-action star Alban Lenoir, who co-wrote with Morgan S. Dalibert, a cinematographer making his directorial debut here. The film is about a special-ops gunman who finds his morality put to the test as he gets caught in a war between lawmen, criminal gangs and international terrorists.
Adam Franco (Lenoir) is an undercover special-ops who is smart yet ruthless when he goes about his business. He is assigned by French intelligence to infiltrate a crime organisation run by Victor (Eric Cantona), known for sheltering South Sudanese warlord Moktar (Kevin Layne) who is an IS supporter. Franco's job is to get close to Victor and get information about this warlord who is supposedly behind a terrorist attack on the French capital. While undercover, he unexpectedly develops a friendship with the crime boss' eight-year-old son. Franco then has to decide who to protect, whose orders to follow, and what to fight for.
Eric Cantona in AKA.
The film starts off with an exciting action sequence where we meet Franco disguised as a prisoner being led into an underground lair by Tunisian terrorists to rescue a high-profile French journalist. The fight sequence looks like it's a one-shot as violence erupts and then amps up to become a crazy gunfight that sets the mood for the movie for the next two hours. There are a lot of characters who I think are key, or at least those that we can somewhat connect with. In Victor's family, there is the wife, the young son Jonathan (Noé Chabbat), his sister Hélène (Lucille Guillaume), and his criminal partner named Pee Wee (Saïdou Camara), as well as some undercover cops. Though the movie presents these characters with emotional weight, we know little about some of them, who feel very surface-level. We do get some occasional background throughout the story, but I don't think it's enough to really engage us with each character. Even our main character Franco doesn't get much development until way later in the story.
However, the up-to-standard action in this movie carries the story from scene to scene. And while there are moments of exposition, the action kicks back up to increase the pace. The concept of friendship and the emotional drama that develops between Franco and the boy have a very similar feel to Denzel Washington's Man On Fire (2004). But with AKA, despite the film having some similarities, the overall emotional draw and its execution just can't compare with that film. Also, the ending of this movie left me feeling a bit disappointed. It seems out of place and unfinished, offering more questions than answers. While this didn't ruin the movie for me, it did detract from my enjoyment.
Overall, despite the story being quite shallow with generic character arcs, AKA provides a fair level of excitement and is fun enough for a casual one-time watch, especially if you're in the mood for extreme action and brutal kills. It's just another compact action movie where all memory of the story fades as the credits roll.
- Starring Alban Lenoir, Eric Cantona, Lucille Guillaume
- Directed by Morgan S. Dalibert
- Now streaming on Netflix