Inspired by the Latin American practice of secuestro express – or quickie kidnap – the Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowicz’s debut feature tracks a miserable night in the life of a rich Caracas couple (Mia Maestro, Jean Paul Leroux) after a wild night out of partying ends with abduction at the hands of a trio of gun-happy barrio gangsters. We’re then with the couple and the banditos until the woman’s father (played by Rubén Blades) coughs up. And as the night of brutality wears on, nuance starts to push its way through what at first looked like stereotypes. Maybe our gangsters aren’t so bad; maybe our heroes aren’t so heroic. It’s a garishly lit thriller, feels coke-fuelled and features a number of camera tricks Guy Ritchie probably thinks he has a lock on. Talky? Just a bit – someone’s been watching Tarantino as well (but then who hasn’t?) – though this is in the main a fast-moving, good-looking thriller that knows how to wind tension up and down. As an added bonus there are at least two deliciously audacious plot twists that mark Jakubowicz as a man to watch.
© Steve Morrissey 2006