Secuestro Express

"Terrible"

Secuestro Express Review


Someday filmmakers will tire of the sound of hammers clicking into the chambers of handguns and the sight of amped-up thugs terrorizing their victims. Until that day, though, we're stuck with films like Secuestro Express. A routine kidnap thriller from Venezuela gussied up in some socially relevant finery, it manages to take a setting of volcanic unrest and reduce it to the most banal of stories. If one were to find something good to say about it, then that thing would be: It's nice for variety's sake to at least see the same old effluvia coming from a different country than usual.The title of Secuestro Express ("Express Kidnapping") comes from the trend of quickie kidnappings in Latin America, and the film's look aims to capture the rapid-fire nature of these endeavors. Shot with DV cameras on the streets of Caracas, the film - written and directed by first-timer Jonathan Jacubowicz, who was himself briefly kidnapped a few years back - starts in the early morning hours and is over in time for the surviving principals to grab lunch. A quick montage of news footage establishes Caracas as a roiling cauldron of discontent where anything can happen. Given its ostensible interest in the plight of the city's poor, however, the same point would have been gotten across if they'd just played "Welcome to the Jungle" over the credits. Then there's the camera-in-overdrive visual style familiar from TV crime procedurals.In true post-noir style, Jacubowicz bangs out the film's principal characters, giving them each their own identifying stylized freeze-frame (example: "BUDU-Painter. Rapist. Sentimental Father"). The kidnapping crew, a hopped-up trio of gunslingers, takes their targets at 5:30am and then drive around for a while, trying to get a quick pile of cash out of their (hopefully) rich parents. Carla and Martin, stylish engaged yuppies who like clubbing and cocaine, seem to be good targets, and it looks like their fathers will cough up the ransom before more than a few hours have passed.In between, the kidnap crew rolls around Caracas, smoking up, having Martin get money out of the ATM, and shoving their guns into the abductees' heads (they do that a lot). Like the filmmakers, they seem somewhat at a loss for what to do. Before long, things will have come to a conclusion of sorts, but only after more guns have been shoved in more faces (that happens a lot). As a kidnap thriller, Secuestro Express is a complete bore, but what's worse is that it occasionally seems to imagine it's making a point.Class warfare underpins the story, with the kidnapped being harangued endlessly about flaunting their privilege in a city where "half the population is starving." "You rich are just asking to get killed," they're told at one point. But Jacubowicz seems to just be trying to find an easy reason to give audience sympathy to his kidnappers and to deprive the kidnapped of any. It's hard to explain away the film's sadistic delight in the torture and debasement of the kidnapped when none of the kidnappers seem that badly off, and one (Trece) is even identified as middle-class. The film even undercuts its own class warrior status by assigning all the traits of the thoughtful and reluctant criminal - there's always one in a film like this - to the middle-class character, showing the other two lower-class ones as little better than animals.Supposedly, Secuestro Express (the first Venezuelan film to be distributed by a Hollywood studio) was to open our eyes to the reality of the situation in Caracas. Point taken, crime there is out of control. But it's hard not to think - especially after the film's crass, cheap, and manipulative conclusion - that a film which actually showed the horrid conditions of the city would have been more effective than one which simply wallowed in bloody gangster posing.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th March 2006

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Miramax

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jonathan Jacubowicz

Producer: Jonathan Jacubowicz, , Eduardo Jacubowicz, Stephanie Mora

Starring: as Carla, as Carla's Father, Carlos Julio Molina as Trece, Pedro Perez as Budu, Carlos Madera as Niga Sibilino, Jean Paul Leroux as Martin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.