out of Five
Running time: 88
Impeccably directed, tightly-wound and extremely tense thriller with some neat twists and a healthy dose of social commentary thrown in for good measure.
What's it all about?
Set in Caracas, the film stars Mia Maestro and Jean Paul Leroux as Carla and Martin, a wealthy young couple who find themselves the victim of an express kidnapping at the hands of three thugs (Molina, Perez and Madera). It's called an express kidnapping because the bad guys don't ask for too much, intending to get their money from Carla's father (Ruben Blades) and release their victims as quickly as possible.
There are definite shades of both City of God and Amores Perros to Secuestro Express, and I mean that in a good way. As well as serving as a tense, exciting thriller, the film also takes the time to observe that a) without the massive extremes of the rich/poor divide, the kidnap business wouldn't exist, and b) in a city as corrupt as Caracas, the cops can be dodgier than the criminals.
Director Jonathan Jakubowicz throws a whole bagful of directorial tricks at the screen, including rapid editing, split screen, speeded-up film and so on, all of which adds up to a chaotic, incredibly tense atmosphere. In addition, the use of handheld DV cameras and extreme close-ups means that the audience is literally thrown into the car with the victims.
The performances are excellent, particularly Mia Maestro (also seen in Poseidon), whose role is much more complex than it initially appears.
Molina is equally good as the most sympathetic of the kidnappers.
There are several excellent scenes and Jakubowicz pulls off an impressive couple of twists, one of which is genuinely chilling. There's also a fair amount of humour in the film, albeit of the extremely dark variety.
Secuestro Express is definitely worth seeing and you'll almost certainly be keeping a sharp look-out for kidnappers on the way home. Highly recommended.
Secuestro Express (18)