9 August 2005 | noralee
A Twisty Crime Thriller With Political and Social Commentary
"Secuestro Express" is a neat little twisty thriller in the exaggerated style of gritty British crime dramas like "Layer Cake," with a pointed political and social overlay.
Using swooping, in-your-face close-up cameras, limited narration and dossier-style on screen character and time descriptors, writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz, in his full-length fiction debut, captures a docudrama feel to make the kidnapping of a young, lighter-skinned couple by a motley group of "nigros" (darker-skinned) thugs, with a variety of psychological and financial motives for doing this "work", a commentary on class in Latin America, specifically in Caracas, Venezuela.
The individuality of all the characters, including the criminals, adds to the explosive unpredictability as stereotypes of Latin American culture are ironically skewered, including oligarchies, macho men, religion and sensuality, as each person uses political and class rhetoric to justify greed, selfishness and condescension on all sides.
Drugs are caustically shown to have pervasively corrupted and enthralled all levels of the society through a harrowing picaresque exploration of "the ghetto" (as the subtitles translated the geography).
The acting is excellent, particularly Mía Maestro, of TV's "Alias," who goes through an entire spectrum of emotions. Jean Paul Leroux as her boyfriend "Martin" is very good at shifting gears as our sympathies shift around him.
The song selection felt very atmospheric and the soundtrack kept the tension ratcheted up.
The "fire next time" coda didn't quite work or add much to what we think the characters learned that night except assuring us that life ominously goes on among all the classes despite the continuing sharp differences.