It’s not often that Netflix releases an action thriller that also comes with a message or a reflection of real-world issues. That is exactly what happened with the 2022 film Athena, which depicts the consequences of police brutality in France. The film is available to stream now if you missed it when it was first released.
Athena follows three brothers and their search for answers to the tragic killing of their younger brother just hours earlier. The film starts off at a breakneck speed and never really lets up throughout, with some truly impressive set-pieces and direction from director Romain Gavras.
This is actually only Gavras’ third feature film after a long career of directing massive music videos like Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “No Church in the Wild,” M.I.A’s “Born Free,” and Jamie XX’s “Gosh.”
The epic action drama Athena is streaming on Netflix.
Roman Gavras also co-wrote the screenplay for Athena with Ladj Ly and Elias Belkedder. The film stars Dali Benssalah, Sami Slimane, Anthony Bajon, Ouassini Embarek, and Alexis Manenti. The film initially debuted at the Venice International Film Festival in 2022, where it was nominated for the Golden Lion award before it was released on Netflix later the same month.
Politician Gilbert Collard, for instance, had the opinion that the film would bring about a “civil war” after seeing the teaser.
Although Athena didn’t end up taking home the Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, it did end up winning the Young Cinema Award and the Cinema for UNICEF award at the festival. It would also be nominated at several other award ceremonies, including the Gotham Awards, the London Critics Circle Film Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards. On top of its various nominations, the film also got good reviews outside of award circles.
The reviews for Athena are largely positive, with many critics praising it for its kinetic action and incredible direction. The film is certainly a spectacle from top to bottom, so you can guarantee that you’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout. The tragic story will also keep you engaged in the fate of the characters.
While movie critics were certainly fans of Athena, the movie wasn’t completely free from criticism. Specifically, far-right politicians in France took umbrage with the content of the film. Politician Gilbert Collard, for instance, has the opinion that the film would bring about a “civil war” after seeing the teaser.
While Athena was certainly inspired by real-world problems, the story isn’t a 1:1 retelling of real-world events. However, most people who watched the film enjoyed that it was more than just a standard action movie and actually had something to say. So, if you’re looking for a thriller that is politically charged with some massive action setpieces, then this just might be the right movie for you.
One of the most thrilling and technically complicated set-pieces of Athena is the opening scene…
Also, Netflix has a special treat for anyone who was impressed with the action scenes and direction of Athena, as it also released a making-of documentary that shows you the dedication that went into putting the movie together. The documentary breaks down the how-to of nearly every major setpiece of the film, which will definitely be a treat for fans of the film and people who like to see how the cinematic sausage is made.
Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, Making Athena is a cool watch if you find yourself wanting more after watching the film.
One of the most thrilling and technically complicated set-pieces of Athena is the opening scene, which is a single-take sequence that takes us from a police press conference to the police protests breaking out into violence on all sides out in the streets.
Of course, single-take sequences are some of the most high-wire acts in cinematography and scene direction, so it’s fascinating to see how it all comes together behind the scenes. Not to mention the fact that the film was shot using IMAX cameras, which are larger and more difficult to film with — especially if you’re trying to film a one-take.
In short, if you watch Athena and you think the direction is amazing, make sure to do yourself the favor of checking out Making Athena afterward. At the very least, this action thriller is definitely worth checking out on its own, whether you watch the BTS doc or not. You can stream both the film and the doc on Netflix now.