It is strange that in Greece we do not see as many genre films, especially if one considers the love that greek audiences have for them. Attempts have been made in the past and -truth be told- we slowly start to see attempts at noir, epic adventures and crime thrillers by greek directors.
First time feature director Dimitris Tzetzas makes his own attempt, delivering one of the most interesting genre films we’ve seen by a greek director in recent years. The production is greek-american, so is the crew, giving the outcome an edge.
In the film, Achilles (Prometheus Aliferopoulos) is a photographer who works on behalf of a corrupt journalist (Takis Spyridakis), gathering data that the journalist uses to blackmail powerful people. When asked to do a job on behalf of a corrupt politician (Yannis Stankoglou), who wants to blackmail a local entrepreneur (Erikos Litsis) one thing is sure: a lot of blood will be spilled.
One can tell that Dimitris Tzetzas has cinematic influences. Drive and Only God Forgives (both with Ryan Gosling) are the first to come to mind. The Republic is not a bad copy of such films, but refers to them in a creative way.
The film unfolds in a Greece that we all know: in a corrupted Greece, where hustlers and “lamogia” (as the term is in greek) rule. The dilemma which arises in the film is whether to sell out the country to the corrupted local businessman that the public thinks is a philanthropist or… to foreign powers. It is a rather bitter ascertainment and there is a more bitter -but familiar- closure to the film. The point -the film seems to believe- is not what you do, but how you sell it. It is a smart variation on a foreign pattern that compliments the genre and the place where the story occurs.
Dimitris Tzetzas knows a lot about cinema. A photographer himself, the film could not fail to have a great cinematography (by Jordan Danelz). The outcome is Athens under neon lights, dipped in blood, a city of brothels, a dangerous Athens. Tzetzas smartly manages his shots, even the ones that are not easy. Whereas in the hands of another director the result might look ridiculous, in his hands the movie is a decent -and very violent- adventure.
There are, of course, elements that don’t match. For example, the Asian “obsession” that one of the characters has, can be a cause for spectacular battles, but seems paradoxical -at least- and not relevant to the greek reality. At the same time, brutal violence will alienate part of the audience.
Prometheus Aliferopoulos very good actor and Tzetzis seems to have been looking for someone who looks more like Ewan McGregor than Sylvester Stallone. It’s a smart choice, but when the fighting starts, then the viewer finds it difficult to believe that the perpetrator could be him. It also seems strange how, after the tragedy that finds him, he manages to recover quite fast in order to proceed with his quest for justice.
The other great asset of the film is the actors. Whether in small or in larger roles most of them manage to leave their mark (hint: watch out for the cameo of Zoi Laskari. Priceless!)