‘A Man of Action’ Review: The Eternal Struggle Against the System
Anarchism is one of those political ideologies that is often misinterpreted by those who call themselves anarchists or try to pass as one. In the entire spectrum of political ideologies, anarchism stands even today as a strange animal. In fact, the main reason for this is that not many films or TV adaptations are done following the life stories of famous anarchists. A Man of Action, a new film available on Netflix, has come to try to fix that issue, and it is ready to tell the story of an anarchist and all the problems he got into while fighting for what he believed.
A Man of Action is a film directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and stars Juan Jose Ballesta, Liah O’Prey, Luis Callejo, Ana Polvorosa, Alexandre Blazy, and Ken Appledorn. The film follows the life of Lucio Urtubia, from his beginnings as a poor kid in Spain, to his exploits in Paris, where he became a famous activist in favor of the anarchist movement. As well as a bank robber and a forger. Lucio’s life was full of excitement, love, danger, and many other things that make it a story worth telling in a movie.
A Man of Action is a classic biopic-style movie where we get to see the start and basically the end of a particular historical figure. Many of these movies are famous for taking a lot of creative license with the original story, and A Man of Action isn’t any different. However, the movie warns the viewer from the get-go that this is a movie based partially on real events, and it is in no way, shape, or form trying to be historically accurate. This freedom makes the movie feel a lot safer than it has to.
We understand that not every movie needs to be a dark tale full of dread. However, A Man of Action presents some facts and makes it seem as if there is really not a lot of difference between being right and wrong in any scenario. Lucio happens to make many enemies throughout his tale. This is understandable; he is a bank robber, a thief, and someone who is trying to dismantle the capitalist system that has ruled over France for quite a while. Nevertheless, at no point, any of these enemies feel like a real threat.
The result is a movie that feels very safe in every single aspect of the world. The story is more cheerful than the series most of the time, and the depiction of some of the most serious real-life events comes across as some sort of game. It is entertaining, for sure, but the contrast between what is happening on screen and how the movie presents itself is a bit jarring. This might be the reason the movie doesn’t feel very memorable. The events are never tackled with the proper gravitas, and the audience could feel like nothing of weight has really happened.
That might be the biggest issue with the movie, but everything else, from production design, to costumes and the acting, is all very good. The movie really transports you to the time of the revolution, even allowing the chance to see some cameos from historical figures from the time. However, it is the acting that really sells the story in every aspect. Ballesta steals the show; it is his movie, and of course, he is the main character, and he carries the story with an excellent performance that navigates between naive and sweet, and sometimes clueless and obsessive.
In terms of visuals, the cinematography by Sergi Vilanova is quite solid and fits the time period the movie is trying to portray. However, it never goes beyond just being efficient, and there are very few shots that make the movie stand out as a piece of visual storytelling or something that can stay in your mind for a long time. Fortunately, the actors and their characters are the main focus of the piece, and they are killing it. Liah O’Prey, and Alexandré Blazy stand out as characters that might not have the same screen time as Lucio but still manage to be compelling.
As the story progresses, you can see the resolution coming a mile away, and yet it works because it feels completely in line with what the characters would do. So, it might not be a surprising ending, but it is a very satisfying one. It’s a bit too sugary for what the movie is trying to portray, but sometimes that kind of execution is exactly what we need to forget about the real-life problems that surround us every day.
In the end, A Man of Action is an entertaining movie that maybe takes too much liberty with its source material but still manages to be quite entertaining. If what you are looking for is a story that is rigorously faithful to history, then you better start looking somewhere else. A Man of Action is trying to be inspiring and cozy more than anything else, and it achieves it to a point. This might not be one of the best Netflix movies of the year, but it is definitely way better than average.