Secuestro Express (2005)

Secuestro Express
Written and directed by: Jonathan Jabukowicz
Starring: Mia Maestro, Carlos Julio Molina, Pedro Perez, Carlos Madera, Ruben Blades

I'm still not sure what Jonathan Jabukowicz tried to accomplish with Secuestro Express, a film about three gangsters kidnapping a young and rich couple in Caracas, Venezuela. Is it a realistic depiction of a rotting metropolis swimming in poverty and crime, is it a violence-driven Tarantino stylized movie made for all those Pulp Fiction followers or is it a Natural Born Killers-like over-the-top satire? Frankly, it's like a combination of the three, and a poor man's combination at that.

I was always more of a fan of subtle storytelling. The situations in which the characters find themselves in get more preposterous with every minute, which does not contribute to the realism the film tries to present with its use of digital cameras and authentic Caracas background. There are moments where the movie calms down, so to speak, especially in its second half - it gets rid of that irritating fast editing, stylized slow motion shots, where the feeling of despair and some real tension replace the entertaining, but somehow unnatural humour, brought to you by the hilariously over-the-top performances of three Venezuelan rap musicians (read: not professional actors) Carlos Julio Molina, Pedro Perez and Carlos Madera, but those moments are brief and not developed enough to cover up the flaws that stayed with me. For example, there is very rarely a situation where it feels that the kidnapped are in danger. Instead, we have a situation where the main protagonist, Carla the victim, „moans“ for Budu, the kidnapper, while innocently smiling about it. In the middle of a kidnapping. Where the movie gets really bizarre is the scene where the second kidnapped victim finally comes out of the closet and has sex with his male drug dealer (conveniently enough, the upper class victim and the lower class kidnappers shared the same drug dealer in a city with 6 million people). Yep, in the middle of his kidnapping. I don't know if Jabukowicz tried to convey a message with this about the hypocrisy of the upper class of Caracas, represented in Martin, the second kidnapping victim (easily one of the most despicable characters I've seen lately), but frankly, going with the homosexual angle is a pretty cheap and shallow way to go. There is a later, much smarter twist involving Martin that is unfortunately ruined by one big contrivance in the plot (Taxis are such a bitch in Caracas).

It's too bad because it really is a missed opportunity. Like I said, the second half of the film does show some dimension and directing choices that are fairly interesting, but the ending is again contrived, with the deus ex machina „kidnapper with a soul“, a cliche seen already too much in many movies, saving the day. I'd prefer a more haunting ending with Clara staying in the dark police van and riding off... but to each his own. I can't say I didn't enjoy the film – some moments were a lot of fun, but I wish this delicate matter was dealt in a more mature way. For a more successful depiction of South American crime life, check out Fernando Meirelles' City of God.

1 komentar:

sheva76 kaže...

Moram priznat da nisam cuo za ovaj film, i sumnjam da cu ga u skoroj buducnosti gledati, nije mi visoko na listi prioriteta. No ni Božji grad nisam gledo, to je kiks, morat cu se s tim pozabavit.