Loosely based on the life of Spanish anarchist Lucio Urtubia, “A Man of Action” tracks down how the bricklayer formulated an elaborate plan to disrupt the functioning of First National City Bank. Since childhood, Lucio has grown up watching how unequal the world is and how inconsiderate banks can be. When his father was on his deathbed, he requested money from the bank, but he was denied any help. From then on, Lucio realized how the bourgeoisie would never care for the working class, even when they were on their deathbed. After his father’s death, he wanted to move to Paris with his sister, but she insisted he join the military, and after serving his nation, he could contact her to live in Paris. Moving to France would be impactful in Lucio’s life, and he would eventually meet a group of people who would change his life forever.
‘A Man of Action’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Lucio was reunited with his sister, Satur, after he fled from his post in the military. He explained that he was involved in smuggling goods, which was quite a success. Unfortunately, someone ratted on his team, and they were kept locked up in a military prison. Lucio managed to escape, and he was certain that his team would curse him for leaving them to face the consequences. While Satur believed Lucio must return to his service and take responsibility for his actions, Lucio was not ready to do so. He was tired of following orders and wanted to leave military life behind. Satur’s husband, Patrick, who worked at the mint, helped Lucio find a bricklayer job. Lucio dedicated himself to the work he was assigned, and the older workers found it difficult to keep up with his pace. Even after they requested that he slow down, he did not pay heed to them. Later during their break hour, they discussed how Lucio’s nature was that of an anarchist. Lucio was intrigued by their suggestion, and he was asked to join the Constituent Assembly of the Clichy Anarchist Association. He was introduced to the famous anarchists and their beliefs. He learned that money was the biggest evil in society and that the anarchists believed in living without a government and money. He also learned how banks exploit their workers and are responsible for creating inequality in the world. Lucio was impressed by the ideology and looked forward to an anarchist world. It was on this day that Lucio learned about Quico Sabate, the legendary anarchist and urban guerilla of the Francois post-civil war period. Sabate was known for conducting bank heists and distributing money among the needy.
After learning about the anarchists and what they stood for, Lucio knew he was an anarchist as well. His display of resistance to authority impressed the group, and he was offered the responsibility of sheltering Quico Sabate. Quico was impressed with Lucio; he could sense that Lucio was a rebel just like he was. Quico believed that men such as himself and Lucio did not believe in poetic verses but rather believed in speaking through their actions. Their first dinner together was spent discussing how bankers and priests were equally untrustworthy. After his first attempt at robbing a bank to buy his father morphine, Lucio was back at it again, this time with Quico by his side. Quico made him realize that what they were about to do was more than robbery. They were responsible for making sure that the money was expropriated, and they must not feel guilty about doing the right thing. Even though Lucio was terrified upon entering the bank, Quico reminded him who the real thieves were and pushed him to take charge.
They went on to successfully rob a bank the second time, and Lucio was gradually gaining confidence. He was now certain that the work that they were doing was to build the society that they dreamed of. Upon hearing the description of the robbers, Inspector Costello was confident that the men were Spanish anarchists. The police ambushed their meeting and captured Lucio. The bank manager confirmed that Lucio was one of the men who robbed the bank. The police were unable to find any evidence that would indicate that Lucio was the robber, so they had to let him go. But Inspector Costello was certain that Lucio was the one responsible, and sooner or later, he would take part in a similar crime, and they would eventually have enough proof to capture him.
How Did Quico’s Death Affect Lucio? Where Did Lucio Meet Anne?
Lucio was not entirely on board with Quico’s plan of bringing revolution by robbing banks and factories of munitions. He believed that they needed the masses by their side, and that could only be achieved through words and not weapons. While Cuba was their inspiration, Lucio knew that what they were dealing with required a different method. Quico was unimpressed by Lucio’s suggestion of starting a printing press. But for Lucio, this, too, was a form of action and contribution. Quico announced that he would return to Spain and fight the fascists instead of hiding and distributing flyers. While Lucio idealized Quico, he believed that was not the route he wanted to take. After bidding Quico farewell, Lucio focused on building a printing press.
They approached a bank for a loan, but as expected, they were denied one. The news of Quico’s demise further angered Lucio, and he decided to rob a bank and pay tribute to him. With the money robbed from the bank, Lucio and Asturiano bought a printing press to start with their mission. They detached themselves from the union and were determined to do things their way. At the printing press, Lucio met Anne. She was a college student who had come to collect pamphlets. She invited Lucio to the college strike, and he was quite taken by her boldness. Anne spoke about the importance of the cultural and social revolution, and even with men making lewd comments, she managed to engage with the crowd gathered around her. Lucio interacted with her after she delivered her speech and tried to convince her to join his group of anarchists. After escaping from the police, Lucio explained what he stood for. While his methods were bold, Anne felt a growing attraction towards the stranger. Anne was a university student studying biology; her father owned a business and did not support his daughter’s beliefs. Clearly, there was a difference in where they came from, but both Lucio and Anne dreamt of a similar future. While the police had hoped to catch Lucio in action, all they witnessed was his romance with Anne. Even though Inspector Costello was not yet ready to give up on Lucio, he was instructed by his superior to stop his obsessive and inconclusive pursuit.
‘A Man of Action’ Ending Explained: How Did Lucio Try To Contribute To The Fight Against the United States?
When the news of America’s attempt to bring down the revolution in Cuba gained momentum, Lucio wanted to take action to help Cuba win the war. Jeanne proposed that they could use the printers to print something more effective than leaflets—they could use them to forge documents and even passports. Lucio knew instantly what he wanted to print—he decided that they were going to forge dollar bills. They sought Patrick’s help, who once worked at the mint. While Patrick thought they were mad to be doing this, he agreed to partake to earn extra money. They were successful in forging dollars and tested them by exchanging them at the bank for Francs. The dollar bills looked authentic enough to pass the scrutiny of the banker. They distributed the money earned by exchanging fake dollars for the cause.
Lucio visited the Cuban embassy to propose that they start spreading the fake dollars that would eventually impact the American economy. The embassy asked him to meet Che Guevara, who would be passing through France on his way to the Soviet Union. With a few minutes in hand, Lucio was called upon to meet Che in secrecy. He discussed his plan with Che, but Che believed that with only fake dollars, they would not be able to fight a war that big. On his way out, Lucio realized that the police had spotted him. To escape and give away the dollars, he created chaos by throwing them in the air. As the crowd gathered, he tried to escape, but the police caught him in the end. He had to spend months in prison, and during that time, Anne gave birth to their baby girl. With the support of his lawyer, Lucio managed to get conditional bail and was finally united with his family. After staying in prison for months, Lucio chose to stay out of trouble and worked as a builder for years. But he was soon intrigued when he was handed a traveler’s check. He was informed that with that check, he would be able to withdraw money from any bank.
Lucio realized its utility after using it at a supermarket and proposed forging it for his anarchist group. While Patrick believed that messing with an American bank would be an extreme risk, Lucio stated that as anarchists, it was their duty to fight the bourgeoisie and take a stand against oppression. Even though it would be a risk, the reward would be satisfying. Also, the punishment for forging checks was minimal, and if they were risking their lives, then they must do so to cheat the biggest bank. After several unsuccessful forgings, they were finally able to achieve the perfect ones. Lucio went to the bank, and to his delight, he was able to cash the check. He gathered the anarchists in the city and distributed 20 checks to each pair, asking them to cash them in different cities at the city banks right at noon. It was important to reach the banks at the same time so that the numbers on the checks were not tested, and by the time the checks reached the headquarters, and they figured out the fraud, it would be too late. They decided to do this once every month, and with the money collected, they funded the movement, provided for the prisoners’ families, and kept a third for their expenses. The First National City Bank was shaken by the large-scale fraud, and they pressured the French police to make arrests for the crime. Inspector Costello knew that Lucio must have been the mastermind, though he denied any involvement with it. Anne was disappointed upon finding out that Lucio was back to risking himself and his family. Anne proposed that they shift to Bolivia to join the cause of the Doctors of the World and contribute to bringing change to the world as they had always dreamt of. Lucio was not ready to give up on his plan, but Anne was determined to join the project. She did not want her daughter to watch her father get arrested and sent to prison. She stated that she would be leaving for Bolivia with their daughter even if Lucio chose to stay back.
Due to the heavy fraud, most places were denying cashing out traveler’s checks, but Lucio was not ready to give up. He decided to sell the checks to a bigger player and, for one last time, earn money to contribute to their cause. He contacted Charlie, a friend he made in prison, and set up a meeting with an American black marketeer, Tony Greco. They agreed to a deal and decided to finalize it on the same Saturday that Anne and Juliette would be traveling to Bolivia. With the police following every member of the group, they decided to stop contributing to the movement, and only Asturiano remained by his side. On the day of the transaction, Lucio managed to drop the police car that was tailing him, but even after doing so, he was arrested the moment he walked up to Tony Greco.
Lucio’s lawyer informed him that it was Patrick who informed the police about the place Lucio and Tony would meet. He was in debt and needed money to survive. Meanwhile, Asturiano and Jeanne were granted bail, but Lucio was in big trouble. The City Bank wanted compensation for the fifty million dollars that they lost, and they wanted Lucio to remain imprisoned for at least 20 years. His lawyer was able to find transcription errors and demanded bail until the errors were fixed. When Lucio was released, the media and public celebrated him as the new Robin Hood. Even though the City Bank tried to further pressure the French police, their hands were tied. They had to wait for the trial to begin and for the judge to determine his sentence.
Meanwhile, after confronting Patrick, Lucio learned that he was not the one who betrayed him. Turns out, Tony Greco was a police officer, and Charlie was threatened by the police to cooperate in delivering the plan. Lucio started to receive death threats, and even though Inspector Costello had been after him for twenty years now, he too disapproved of the American method. With the secret service and the French police involved, the City Bank wanted Lucio to be imprisoned without the possibility of bail. Lucio was determined to teach the Americans a lesson, so he decided to print more of the traveler’s checks and distribute them among the anarchists, who cashed them in Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico, and Belgium. Facing further losses, the City Bank realized that they were up against an impossible challenge. When Lucio made a phone call to Anne, the police were able to arrest him by tracking his call. After his arrest, he wanted to talk to the City Bank representative, Mr. Burrow. Lucio offered a deal, but he made it clear that the bank was not ready to negotiate. Lucio continued to explain that even though they managed to arrest him, they did not have the printing plates. Without the printing plates, there was no guarantee that the forgery of the traveler’s check would come to an end. Lucio demanded that, in exchange for the plates, the bank get rid of all the charges against him and provide him with generous compensation. Mr. Burrow was furious; he could not believe Lucio’s guts. But Lucio knew that the bank’s reputation was in question, and they needed the forgeries of traveler’s checks to stop to strengthen the bank’s future. And to ensure no forgery of checks, they would have to stop printing checks, which would further confirm that they lost against the anarchists. The City Bank ultimately accepted his deal, and in exchange for the printing plates, Lucio was compensated with money. While Lucio celebrated his win, Mr. Burrow remarked that he was able to save the bank in exchange for what they would consider a tip. So, in the end, he believed that the bank remained undefeated.
Lucio joined his family in Bolivia. No one knew how much money he claimed for the anarchist cause from the City Bank. After the check forgery, banks started to develop alternative methods of cash withdrawal that ultimately led to the emergence of cards and ATMs in the mid-80s. Even after separating, Anne and Lucio remained friends for life. “A Man of Action” is a tribute to Lucio Urtubia, the man who managed to bring the biggest American bank to its knees and got away with a hefty compensation. While for Lucio, it was an act of rebellion, for the capitalists, it was a minor inconvenience that they dealt with. But no matter what, Lucio was able to rattle the world with his act, which caused the bank a significant loss. He fearlessly judged the situation and took advantage of it, knowing that he had the upper hand. And ultimately, his bravery helped fund the movements, and it did not cost him any time in prison as well.
“A Man of Action” is a 2022 Drama Biopic film directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera.