The latest Netflix Original action film out of France, AKA, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?
For Netflix Original Movies, the action-filled crime thrillers out of France have been all over the map in terms of quality & success. On the low end, big-star efforts with the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme (The Last Mercenary) or Jean Reno (Rogue City) did not fare well from a critical perspective. They also failed to capture enough attention to franchise something with those notable names. However, on the high end, surprise hits like 2020’s Lost Bullet did well enough critically and captured a sizable enough audience that it spawned a sequel in 2022’s Lost Bullet 2: Back For More.
The success of Lost Bullet not only opened the door for a potential franchise, but it also put its star Alban Lenoir on a bigger stage from the episodic TV-filled & minor character work his career had produced to that point. He went on to co-star in famed French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s sci-fi comedy Big Bug for Netflix and, of course, star once again in the sequel to Lost Bullet reprising his role as small-time delinquent turned high-end mechanic Lino.
His latest French language Netflix film, AKA, brings Lenoir back into the roles of co-writer & lead actor as he once again blends between the worlds of police enforcement and the criminal underground.
Co-written & directed by Lost Bullet cinematographer Morgan S. Dalibert, the film centers around a steely special ops agent (Lenoir) who finds his morality put to the test when he infiltrates a crime syndicate and unexpectedly bonds with the boss’s young son.
Unlike the more standard fare from the genre in America, AKA has a much slower, subtle, & methodical approach to its storytelling & character development. So many American action films rush to tell you as much as you need to know about their lead character so they can get right to the elaborate fight sequences and quests for complete annihilation of some criminal organization. This film may show you the prowess of Adam Franco’s field work fairly early, but the backstory of who he is, why he chose this line of work, and where his allegiances truly lie all come in small fragments scattered throughout the 2 hour runtime. The conspiracy plot seemingly unravels at the same rate of speed as the Adam character, which serves for a cohesive balance that leads to the quite revealing & explosive finale.
For fans of the genre, don’t worry; the action here is quite good as well for what appears to be a modest budget. While not as relentless as the “gun fu” action style from southeast Asia or John Wick this year, you get plenty of quality hand-to-hand combat & headshots throughout. Lenoir’s Adam Franco has the skills mix that would make him a great addition to a film series like Extraction with exceptional physicality, impressive marksmanship, & mental toughness.
While a lot of the characters, including Adam, run very thin with varying degrees of cliche, I believe the film does just enough with them to move the story along and get us to the next explosive outburst. Much like John Wick loves his dogs & his car, Adam Franco has his soft spot in protecting young children, which gives the film an unexpected dose of heart & humanity.
Overall, AKA is a solid entry for fans of Lenoir and the Lost Bullet film series with enough guns blazing to satisfy any fan of action-laden crime thrillers. With a more reserved approach, a dash of heat and heart, & a passable conspiracy plot, this film stands out amongst its fellow French Netflix offerings.
Watch AKA on Netflix If You Like:
- Lost Bullet
- Rogue City
- Earth and Blood
- The Decline
MVP of AKA on Netflix
Alban Lenoir as Adam Franco
Though he has similarly few lines to that of John Wick these days. Alban Lenoir provides such an imposing & commanding presence that he makes up for the thin character design. He reads like a watered down French version of Tom Hardy or Jason Statham and could repeat these types of films for several years to come.
PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP? AKA on Netflix
With impressive pace & satisfying action sequences, AKA is one of the better Netflix Originals of the genre, especially those that have been produced from France. Just like fellow French action film Lost Bullet, this one could have a sequel in its future.