Athena Movie Review and Movie Summary (2022)

The camera does not interrupt the movement and finds in the crowd Abdel’s brother Karim (Sami Slimane, a fiery presence in his screen debut). His eyes burning with anger and his attitude impatient, he lights up and throws a Molotov cocktail at the door, starting a well-planned riot in the middle of an angry crowd. Through it – and a stunning action sequence of smoky mayhem that follows – Karim and the protesters take control of the site as well as a large supply of weapons with cinematographer Mathias Boucard‘s unwavering and nimble camera follows them to their housing project, Athena: a place these revolutionaries proudly honor above all else and stand tall on its edges.

Truth be told, Surkin’s pulsating score that sprawls over this sequence (and many others equally impressive thereafter) is vast and exhausting. The dynamic between the music and the visuals is one that brings to mind Hans Zimmer‘s occasional overindulgence when composing for Christopher Nolan— to compete against the size of the filmmaker’s already large images rather than enhance them. But apart from that, “Athena” – a Greek tragedy constructed by the son of Costa-Gavras with recognizable hints of “Z” – immensely satisfying as a fast-moving political thriller and urban drama that feels genuinely cinematic, with technical finesse to spare.

Yet the film, which essentially follows the late Idir’s three disparate brothers, is more emotionally poignant in its rare moments that focus on small and quiet gestures and undercurrents. A realistically rendered (and recited) Islamic funeral prayer comes to mind, one simmering with pain and family grudges. Elsewhere, the third brother, Moktar (Ouassini Embarek), gives “Athena” one of its more challenging and narratively difficult storylines, being siblings who have found a way to line their pockets amidst all the injustices their people face. Running a drug operation out of Athena, Moktar’s primary interest happens to be his own survival, and he’s not afraid to question it.

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