Netflix’s ‘Athena’ is a French drama movie directed by Romain Gavras. It tells the story of a Paris suburb that erupts into violence after the tragic death of a 13-year-old boy. As the community rises in revolt, seeking justice for the young boy, his three elder brothers face individual dilemmas as they search for the killers. Divided by ideological conflicts, the brothers make their own decisions leading to tragic and disastrous consequences. If you are wondering about the brothers’ fates and the killers’ identity in ‘Athena,’ here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Athena Plot Synopsis
‘Athena’ opens in the aftermath of the death of Idir, a Muslim boy from a suburb in Paris. His death sparks a revolt in the local community, and the rising tension starts taking a violent turn. Idir’s older brother, Abdel, is a decorated soldier in the military. He tries to handle the situation with diplomacy and entrusts the investigation of his brother’s death to the authorities. However, the police themselves are suspects in Idir’s murder which is the primary cause of rage among the community.
Meanwhile, Idir’s other brother, Karim, leads a group of rebels during the protests and steals weapons from the police using Molotov cocktail bombs. The rebels hide in the Athena Estate with guns and display an extremist reaction to Idir’s death. Karim seeks help from his eldest brother, Mokhtar, a local drug dealer. However, Mokhtar is only concerned with his drug operations and refuses to take a stance. Elsewhere, Abdel leads the evacuation of citizens from a local city hall. His mother is unaware of Karim’s whereabouts and requests Abdel to protect his brother.
A television news report reveals that Idir was bludgeoned and beaten to the ground by police officers, causing his death. The police investigation suggests the possibility that the police officers who arrested and assaulted Idir were not real officers. Instead, they are members of a small far-right group that is at the center of the chaotic state of the Athena council estate. Meanwhile, Karim and his rebels hold a police officer named Jerome hostage. In exchange for Jerome, the rebels demand the officers who killed Idir. Abdel offers to negotiate with Karim, but the police ask him to stand down. Moreover, they threaten to arrest Abdel if she does not follow the police orders.
Nonetheless, Abdel enters the Athena estate hoping to peacefully resolve the situation by speaking to Karim. Abdel and Karim end up in a confrontation, and Abdel uses the opportunity to flee with Jerome. With the rebels and the police hunting him down, Abdel turns to Mokhtar for help. Mokhtar reluctantly provides shelter to Abdel. In the process, Mokhtar reveals that he is Abdel’s half-brother. Abdel contacts the police and offers to hand over Jerome to clear his name. However, Karim and his rebels arrive on the scene before the police, leading to a deadly fight. The drastic turn of events leads to Abdel siding with the rebels and fighting for justice for Idir’s death.
Athena Ending: Why Does Abdel Join the Rebels? Is Abdel Dead?
During the hand-off with the police, Karim and his group of rebels try to get their hands on Jerome. Kaim refuses to let Abdel escort Jerome to the police. Karim’s group starts a violent attack, and they threaten to take down the place with their Molotov cocktail bombs. After the police refuse to comply with Karim and his group’s demands, they continue to pursue the mission to free Jerome. As a result, Karim uses a Molotov cocktail bomb. However, before he can fire it at the police, Karim gets shot, and the bomb explodes on him.
Karim dies in the explosion, leaving a profound impact on Abdel. The older brother is distraught at losing another sibling, and his moral compass starts to shift. Karim’s death helps Abdel see the immorality within law enforcement, and the trauma of Idir’s death strikes him. As a result, Abdel decides that he must fight to get justice for his brothers, Idir, and Karim’s deaths. Hence, Abdel decides to join the rebels and replaces Karim as their leader. Abdel’s change of allegiance is an indication of the anarchy unfolding in Athena estate and underlines the distrust the community feels toward law authorities.
After Abdel takes charge of the rebels, he refuses to hand over Jerome. He demands that the police hand over Idir’s killers before he sets Jerome free. During the negotiation with the police, Abdel learns that the killers are members of a far-right group and not actual police officers. However, Abdel refuses to believe them and threatens to kill Jerome if his demands are not met. One of the rebels, Sebastian, is planning to bomb the building where the rebels and Abdel are hiding with Jerome.
Soon, the police arrive, and Abdel realizes his plan will never work. As a result, Abdel allows Jerome to leave and stays in the building as it explodes. Despite losing his moral sense, Abdel cannot get justice for his brothers. With his plan failing, Abdel decides to die with his brothers, leading to a tragic end to the family’s conflict. Abdel’s death signifies the failure of the law authorities and highlights the discrepancies in law and order. Ultimately, Abdel, a decorated military officer, is sucked into the chaos of anarchy caused by the socio-political conflicts.
How Did Idir Die? Who Killed Him?
Idir’s death kick-starts the film’s events and remains a mystery throughout the story. His death triggers a violent reaction from the local community in the Athena estate. The film’s final moments finally shed some light on Idir’s death. The scene depicts a group of police officers beating Idir. After they beat the young boy, the police officers leave him to die. Later, we see the group removing their police uniforms and burning them. The scene implies that the people were not actually officers, as the police department had suspected.
Furthermore, as the men leave the scene, a tattoo on their necks confirms that they are a part of the far-right group suspected of being behind Idir’s death. Thus, the film’s climax proves that Idir’s death resulted from a hate crime against the community. While the film does not detail the conflict within the local community, the anarchic state of Athena Estate is reminiscent of the modern socio-political disputes across the globe and especially in France concerning the Muslim community.
The film’s ending confirms the reason behind Idir’s death is the hate seminating within the country stemming from political issues. However, Idir’s death is merely the inciting incident that leads the community to erupt into violence. The tension is already high, and the same could be caused by the far-right group who is propagating hate and manipulating events to create disharmony among the citizens. As a result, the film also makes some social commentary on the state of policing and the resulting conflicts between law enforcement and citizens in the nation. Moreover, by not detailing the root of the high tension in the Athena estate, the film creates a genuinely uneasy and scary representation of the worst turn humanity can take without trust.
Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Athena Filmed?