16 February 1999 | kimmy-14
An intelligent and gripping political thriller
The Best Revenge is an intelligent and suspenseful political thriller that has an ending which is a total surprise and enormously satisfying. Carlos, a Salvadorean, comes to Los Angeles after the civil war looking for the American military advisor who tortured him and killed his wife - the mysterious "Mister Smith". He takes a man he believes is Mr. Smith captive in his own home as the L.A. riots break out. Concluding he's made a mistake and has the wrong man, Carlos tries one more ruse. And this leads to the surprise ending which merits the movie's title.
The film deals with the same premise as Death and the Maiden - a torture victim takes captive the man the victim thinks was their torturer and with the tables turned interrogates the captive. Both movies deal with the subject of torture and politics in an intelligent way, but The Best Revenge with its ending adds another layer with a heightened climax, while Death and the Maiden fizzled out in an ambiguous and unsatisfying ending. The Best Revenge also contains considerable humor with off the wall characters particularly when Carlos checks into a motel and meets a hooker into "sado-macho-ism".
Strong performances by Carlos Riccelli and Robert Pine carry the movie with great dramatic tension. The message of the move turns out not to be political at all, but motives prove to be purely personal.
For anyone interested in Latin America and relations with the U.S. as well as anyone wanting a good suspense movie, this is a winner.