A film inspired by real events, ‘A Man of Action’ follows a bricklaying anarchist on his Robinhood-like fight against the big banks.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
‘A Man of Action’ opens in 1962 at an airport; a couple is trying to evade the police with a bag full of cash. To divert the police that has ensnared them from both directions, they pull out wads of cash and throw them in the air.
Cut to 20 years earlier, the film delves into the tumultuous childhood of the man, Lucio Urtubia. When a teen Lucio goes to the bank and asks for a loan to help save his dying father, he receives no help and is forced to see his ailing father pass away.
While his sister goes to Paris, he has to serve his time in the military before he can go there and start life anew. Ten years later, after having escaped the military, Lucio arrives in Paris and gets a job as a builder.
Soon, Lucio finds the local anarchist movement resonating with his own anti-order/anti-authority values. He soon finds himself becoming a full-fledged anarchist and spreading the ideology by distributing flyers.
However, the union isn’t able to give it back to the authorities in any meaningful capacity. Lucio then meets a famous voice of anarchy, Quico Sabaté, who convinces him to expand his anarchist initiative into something more direct and rob the banks.
Initially reluctant, Lucio agrees and they embark on their first robbery, which is a success, albeit with a number of fumbles from Lucio. Soon, they get the process down more efficiently while the police get on his tail.
Soon, Lucio has to stop the robberies and bid farewell to Sabaté, who departs for Spain to fight the fascists and later dies. Meanwhile, Lucio forms an offshoot group of anarchists made up of himself, his brother-in-law Patrick, Arturiano, and Petite Jeanne (a printer).
Anne, a biology student with a revolutionary spirit, stumbles upon Lucio and later the two would fall in love and work as anarchists together. With the help of Anne and others, Lucio begins a dollar counterfeiting operation and cashes the fake ones for real money.
However, he’d later get caught and sentenced to some time in prison. Therein, he makes a friend in Charlie Álvarez after saving his life from another prisoner’s attack.
A restless Lucio would eventually get a conditional release and finally get to meet his newborn daughter with Anne, Juliette. Thereafter, his counterfeit operation stopped but years later he’d find another way to get back at the banks.
It is through the new traveller checks — a way of banking that has become all the rage and is seen as the future of banking. Lucio decides to mass print these checks and with many other anarchists, he begins a large-scale scam that puts City Bank in a precarious financial condition.
He stands to get at least a 12-year-long sentence but gets free and also secures a bag for his fellow anarchists when he strikes a deal with the American bank.
‘A Man of Action’ ending explained in detail:
Who betrays Lucio?
Lucio’s check forging scam doesn’t pan out as they had planned. For so many checks to be cashed in, they’d need a lot of time and effort.
So while Patrick opines retirement should be their next move, Lucio decides to sell the checks to a large buyer, all in one go. With the help of Charlie Álvarez, his former prison mate whom he saved the life of and became friends with, Lucio and Arturiano meet an American buyer named Tony Greco.
However, before the exchange of cash and checks, Lucio becomes a victim of a setup and gets arrested. During his trial, Lucio meets with his lawyer Thierry who finds out and reveals to him how he was betrayed by one of his own.
Previously, Thierry had informed him that Patrick, the husband of Lucio’s sister, was the only one among his team who disappeared before the police arrested them all. This led Lucio to believe that it was Patrick who ratted him out.
However, near the end of ‘A Man of Action’, Thierry reveals that Tony Greco was an undercover policeman and that Charlie Álvarez is the one who betrayed him.
He reveals that the police threatened him with a 20-year sentence so he took the 10,000 bucks and a plane ride to Buenos Aires as part of a deal to get Lucio arrested. He was never going to cash in all those checks as Tony Greco and Charlie Álvarez were in collusion with the police.
What deal does Lucio make with the City Bank?
Lucio’s offer to Barrow, the City Bank representative, is to hand over all the printing plates he used to print the traveller checks, in exchange for the Bank dropping all charges against him and also giving him a nice, modest compensation for all the inconvenience he’s endured.
Although rattled at this absurd proposal at first, Barrow eventually comes to agree to the terms when Lucio makes him realise the adverse effects his still-in-circulation checks and still-in-use printing operation will have on City Bank’s finances and image.
Barrow agrees to the terms and gives an undisclosed amount of money to Lucio, in addition to dropping all the charges against him.
At the end of ‘A Man of Action’, Lucio takes the bag of money and celebrates the victory of the “flea against the elephant” with Arturiano and Petite Jeanne.
Does Lucio reunite with Anne and Juliette?
Yes, Lucio the “Basque Fox” takes the flight to Tacacoma, Bolivia, and reunites with his wife and daughter. Although late on his word, Lucio does end up making right by his word and meets Juliette and Anne.
He also reassures Anne that he’d now lend a hand with her social work and do what he can as a builder. It’s a bittersweet ending as the family reunites and goes on to live together.
However, the subtitles at the end of ‘A Man of Action’ reveal that Lucio and Anne would go on to separate, although remain good friends for the rest of their lives.