Film Review – Athena (2022)

Title – Athena (2022) 

Director – Romain Gavras (The World is Yours) 

Cast – Dali Benssalah, Sami Slimane, Anthony Bajon, Ouassini Embarek

Plot – The tragic death of their brother at the hands of the French police force throws three siblings lives into a chaos filled night as the housing complex they grew up in becomes a battleground between civilians and government agencies. 

“Justice will be served”

Review by Eddie on 27/01/2023

A collaboration with French filmmaker Ladj Ly, who co-writes this Netflix released dramatic thriller after he bought the incendiary Les Miserables to our screens a few years ago, Romain Gavras’s impressively shot Athena is an above average direct to streaming release that showcases why Gavras should be a director to keep a very close eye on. 

Famed in the industry for his work in the commercial and music clip space, with his previous features Notre jour viendra and The World is Yours not really pushing his brand forward in a significant way, Gavras rollicks out of the block with Athena, offering up a 10 minute plus one-shot opening segment that will take your breath away as we are flung headfirst into the chaotic world of a trio of brothers who find themselves in life and death situations on both sides of the law after their youngster brother is killed by a group of French policeman. 

It’s hard to properly put into words just how well-staged and constructed this opening stanza of Athena is but for all it’s qualities, it sets a standard that the film can’t quite maintain throughout its brisk 90 minute run-time as Gavras manages to continually impress us with his visual prowess and verve but in a storytelling sense there’s a feeling that there’s not a lot going on under the surface as a deeper meaning to care or grow attached to those that inhabit Athena’s world is unable to be discovered. 

There’s an undeniable tension to almost every one of Athena’s scenes, many that take place in a longer take format and some of the films most white knuckle moments bring to memory films such as Uncut Gems, La Haine and Ladj Ly’s own previously mentioned Les Miserables but there’s an inescapable feeling and sense that as the tale of Dali Benssalah’s militaristic Abdel, Sami Slimane’s determined Karim and Ouassini Embarek’s gun dealing Moktar goes on, the gaps in Athena’s narrative become more apparent and hold Gavras’s film back from becoming the special something it threatens to be on more than one occasion. 

Weighed up against Netflix’s usual products there’s no doubt that Athena would rank in the upper class of content the streaming giant has put their name to in recent years and considering the technical mastery and excitement Gavras manages to instil into his effort here, there’s no doubt going to be a moment where the French filmmaker knocks something out of the park in a big way. 

Final Say – 

Opening up with all guns blazing in an unforgettable start, Athena doesn’t manage to hold the momentum all the way through its running time but for those seeking a fresh and baggage free affair, Romain Gavras film provides much in the way of entertainment and spectacle. 

3 1/2 Molotov Cocktails out of 5  

4 responses to “Film Review – Athena (2022)

  1. Hate to hear this one didn’t shine as much as I thought it would. After reading your review it seems like a decent watch so I’ll leave it in my watchlist, but won’t go to great lengths to watch it since non English subtitled films are difficult for me to watch anyway.

    • Still has some great moments mate. The opening segment is one of the best I can recall from last year but it does have some lulls after that.

      • Somehow I got the kids to leave me alone long enough to watch it (iPads rock!) That opening segment was an adrenaline rush. And I enjoyed the rest of it, even with a couple of lulls to break up the action. Ending went the direction I anticipated and I think could have been better, but it didn’t take away from a good movie.

      • Glad you enjoyed mate! I am keen to see what the director does next, France are producing some very unique directors of late.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s