To set the tone, Malkovich begins by taking us on a long truck ride through the mountains of South America. The countryside is beautiful and we are treated to long, wide-angle shots of the truck weaving its way along the base of snow-capped peaks. The passengers listen quietly to a broadcast of Nina Simone babbling to an audience as she prepares to sing her next song. Everyone seems calm, if not peaceful. And then, without a word, the driver guns the engine and slams the vehicle into a policeman standing at a hillside checkpoint. It's this sort of unexpected violence that returns again and again during the first half of the movie. Children blow up their fathers, cars careen into restaurants, politicians are executed on stage in theaters. And, as Inspector Rejas (Javier Bardem) soon learns, these are just the early signs of what could end up being a much bloodier revolution for the impoverished country.
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