Netflix’s Battle: Freestyle is a sequel to Battle, a dance feature based on Maja Lunde’s internationally acclaimed book of the same name. It stars Lisa Teige as a professional dancer torn between her work and her personal life.
Amalie (Lisa Teige), Mikael (Fabian Svegaard Tapia), Moa (Bao Andre Nguyen), Alex (Georgia May Anta), and Josef (Morad Aziman) qualify as a group for a dance battle in Paris, “Break the Cypher”.
Amalie quits her job without informing the crew since she is not allowed a break. Amalie’s estranged mother, Vivian, runs a dance academy in Paris and specializes in ballet.
Once in Paris, Amalie gets in touch with her. Meanwhile, amazed by the skills of their competitor, the group decides to incorporate new moves into their routine.
Amalie is often distracted and misses practice. She chooses not to communicate her situation with the others and Josef disqualifies her.
Vivian arranges an audition for Amalie at her academy. But she performs perfunctorily and is rejected. Amalie finally realizes who her family is, and what she should do to survive the harsh world of professional dance.
Lisa Teige delivers her performance beautifully and so does Ellen Dorrit Petersen as her mother. They are the only characters to have considerable screen time for acting.
The supporting cast does not stand out as actors but they are brilliant as dancers. Every performance and step brings something new about the characters’ personalities and makes the film all the more enjoyable.
Fabian Svegaard Tapia, is worth a separate mention for his role as Mikael, he plays his role perfectly as someone who rose from the margins. His character understands his priorities and also knows how to be a supportive crewmate and partner.
The dance performances are beautifully choreographed. Besides hip-hop and freestyle, there are soothing bits of ballet and modern dance that accentuate the spirit of the scenes.
The soundtrack that goes along with it is also perfectly curated. It perfectly captures the various moods and anxieties that the film is trying to convey.
The pacing is perfect, anything longer would have made the film monotonous. The cinematography complements the feel-good nature of the film.
Although exciting, the overall premise of the film is largely predictable. It does not bring anything new to the genre and sticks to the format formulated by the commercially acclaimed Step Up films.
The story is primarily focused on one member, which leaves no space for the development of other characters. Focus on Mikael’s personal life could have allowed a study on how Norway’s immigrant youths escape the margins, and Josef’s character could have been used to explore the anxieties of prospective parenthood.
There is a general lack of conversation between the crew members given they are so close and refer to one another as family. It basically could have wrapped up in a more complete sense if it showed how the personal side of the characters affects the relationship with their profession.
Battle: Freestyle is an enjoyable watch for anyone, but is particularly recommended for ones who like fast-paced high octane movies. More for those who love dancing.