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(2003) (Javier Bardem, Juan Diego Botto) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Drama: A Latin American detective becomes involved with his daughter's dance instructor while trying to track down a revolutionary and his followers who are attempting to overthrow the government.
Agustin Rejas (JAVIER BARDEM) is a former lawyer turned police detective in an unnamed Latin American country. Married to the superficial Sylvina (ALEXANDRA LENCASTRE) and proud parent of a young daughter, Rejas has been assigned by his superior, Merino (OLIVER COTTON), to track down a revolutionary militant leader by the name of Ezequiel (ABEL FOLK).

Known as the fourth flame of communism, the mysterious figure has all sorts of followers who have no problem killing or being killed in the name of overthrowing the government. With Merino concerned that martial law may soon be imposed if the killings and bombings are now thwarted, he pressures Rejas and his fellow detectives, Sucre (JUAN DIEGO BOTTO) and Llosa (ELVIRA MINGUEZ), to put an end to the terrorist activities before things get even worse.

At the same time, and tired of his wife's superficial ways and life, Rejas finds himself drawn to the alluring Yolanda (LAURA MORANTE), his daughter's dance instructor. As he and his team try to find the elusive Ezequiel, he must deal with his conflicting feelings toward Yolanda.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or want to see the directorial debut of John Malkovich, it doesn't seem too likely.
For strong violence, and for language.
As usual, late character developments are omitted to avoid giving away the ending.
  • JAVIER BARDEM plays a Latin American detective who becomes enamored with his daughter's dance instructor while working hard to track down and capture a deadly revolutionary.
  • JUAN DIEGO BOTTO plays his partner who assists him in that quest, smokes and uses strong profanity.
  • LAURA MORANTE plays the alluring dancer and instructor who becomes involved with Rejas.
  • ELVIRA MINGUEZ plays Rejas and Sucre's other partner who assists them in the search for Ezequiel.
  • ALEXANDRA LENCASTRE plays Rejas' superficial wife
  • OLIVER COTTON plays Rejas' superior officer who wants him to capture the revolutionary and uses strong profanity.
  • ABEL FOLK plays the little seen revolutionary who has his followers use deadly force in his attempts to overthrow the government.


    Actor John Malkovich makes his directorial debut with this effort that's modeled after real life events, yet is set in an unnamed Latin American country. Technically proficient and featuring a terrific visual look, but a bit lacking in story despite the potential and multi-layered plot, the film clearly benefits from the terrific screen presence of Bardem (who's sort of a Latino George Clooney).

    Yet, its twist at the end isn't remotely shocking or surprising, the plot ultimately isn't as complex as it initially seems, and the overall effort is more than a bit challenged when it comes to tempo. It's not horrible, it's simply just stagnant and occasionally boring. (Just a summary, more to come)

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 19 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are used. Some brief, sexually related dialogue is present, as is brief, nonsexual nudity (male full frontal, a woman's bare breast/butt in the shower). Some scantily clad women are seen and the camera occasionally focuses on female's clothed body parts.

    Violence consists of various murders (by gunfire or various explosives), some of which have extremely bloody results. In addition, we see the end result of violence against animals (used for symbolic/political purposes). Other hitting and struggling is also present and some of that material and other moments may be unsettling, tense or suspenseful to some viewers. Some may also prove enticing for some kids to imitate.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while others smoke and some drink and the protagonist nearly has an affair. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with flashes of light on the screen, some of that occurs late in the film during a fireworks display.

  • Various people have drinks at a reception.
  • A person has rice wine.
  • A young kid drinks from a beer bottle he found.
  • A person drinks from a bottle that could contain alcohol of some sort (or possibly water).
  • Sucre drinks a beer.
  • Various people drink beer.
  • Some people have drinks.
  • People have drinks in some sort of club.
  • We see a little bit of blood on a truck (after it struck a person).
  • We see a dead dog that has dynamite in its neck.
  • We see a dead animal strung up in a closet.
  • We see a very bloody body in a body bag.
  • We see several bloody people who've been murdered (including a bullet hole in one's eye). We also see blood on the stage.
  • We see blood splatter on a window and on some clothes during another shooting (it's rather bloody)
  • We see some blood on various things, as well as a bloody handprint. Moments later, we see an extremely bloody girl (an assassin) who was shot (with blood on her, her clothes, the bed beneath her, and from her mouth).
  • We see a man with a bloody nose.
  • Yolanda gets a bloody nose (but we don't see any blood).
  • We briefly see a burning body hanging by its feet.
  • Ezequiel and his followers obviously have both types of attitudes for killing many people, trying to start a revolution, and killing many animals to be used as warning signs to the masses.
  • Rejas' early partner at a checkpoint takes a bribe from a driver.
  • Rejas somewhat cheats on his wife by kissing Yolanda.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and/or "Blood/Gore" might also be unsettling, tense or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • For those who don't like violence to animals, we see the end results of many such actions (but not the actual acts) that include the sight of dead dogs that have been strung up and now hang from the street as warning signs. We also see a dog that has dynamite tied to its tail.
  • Rejas chases after a person who was putting up revolutionary posters, but it turns out to be a kid.
  • Rejas slowly enters a rundown place with his gun drawn while looking for a wounded assassin (and he's nervous), and must then duck for cover when gunfire erupts.
  • We briefly see a burning body hanging by its feet.
  • Various armed men working for Rejas show up and quietly surround a house believed to contain a terrorist.
  • Handguns/Machine guns/Various explosives: Carried and/or used to wound or kill people and cause property damage. See "Violence" for details.
  • We see a dead dog that has dynamite in its neck, while another has dynamite tied to its tail.
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck is that?" "We don't even know what the f*ck that means," "F*ck off," "F*ck-athon," "Dogsh*t," "Horsesh*t," "Piece of sh*t," "Pisses" and "Nuts" (crazy).
  • It's possible some teens could be inspired to attempt to start their own revolution be copying what occurs in the film (assassinations, bombings, etc.).
  • During the film, we see various dead dogs that have been strung up as warning signs, as well as a dog that has dynamite tied to its tail.
  • A kid brings a hidden explosive into a place that then explodes and kills several people.
  • We see a woman wearing a midriff-revealing top.
  • Sudden gunfire might startle some viewers.
  • A moderate amount of such music plays in the film.
  • A song has a line about drinking wine.
  • At least 19 "f" words, 5 "s" words, 3 craps, 4 uses of "Jesus Christ," "2 of "Jesus" and "My God" and 1 use of "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • The camera focuses on a woman's clothed butt in her short skirt and we then see her cleavage. Sucre makes some comment about her wanting to "borrow my penis."
  • We see a woman in her bra and panties as she undresses.
  • We see what looks like part of a man's bare butt as he crawls across the stage during a modern art performance.
  • The camera briefly focuses on a girl bending over in a short skirt.
  • A woman shows cleavage while bending over.
  • We see a woman wearing a midriff-revealing top and the camera then focuses on her clothed butt in her very small and tight shorts (and Sucre comments on her body as they tail her).
  • We briefly see full frontal nudity of Rejas as he bathes/swims in a stream.
  • Rejas and Yolanda kiss, but she then says that they can't.
  • A comment is made that "rubbers" were found in the trash.
  • A woman shows a great deal of cleavage in a low-cut dress.
  • Yolanda takes a shower and we see her bare breasts and the side of her bare butt.
  • Sucre smokes around 5 times, while some miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • There's talk that a suspect smoked unfiltered cigarettes.
  • Rejas isn't happy with his marriage and nearly has an affair, but there are no confrontational scenes between him and his wife.
  • Revolutionary attempts.
  • Martial law.
  • Those phobic of the dark.
  • Although none occurs on camera, there are some non-explicit references to rape for those sensitive to such matters.
  • Affairs (Rejas nearly has one).
  • The driver of a truck purposefully runs over and presumably kills a man at a checkpoint (nothing terribly graphic).
  • For those who don't like violence to animals, we see the end results of many such actions (but not the actual acts) that include the sight of dead dogs that have been strung up and now hang from the street as warning signs.
  • A kid brings a hidden explosive into a place that then explodes and kills several people (nothing graphic from a gore standpoint).
  • We hear stories read about murder, but we don't see any related visuals (of the murders).
  • We see a flashback of a person running up and hitting a person with some sort of club or stick (from a distance).
  • We see various large explosions that are the result of Ezequiel's people committing terrorist acts (with property damage and presumed deaths).
  • We see a person shoot and kill another person (from a distance).
  • During a modern art performance, the lights go out and we then hear gunshots. When the lights come up, spectators who were brought onto the stage are dead and bloody.
  • Some school girls open fire on an official with machine guns and handguns and kill him and several others (with very bloody results), while riddling a car with such gunfire. During that, one of the young assassins is hit and badly wounded.
  • An unseen person (or people) shoots at Rejas inside a room and he shoots back. It appears that an already severely wounded assassin was hit by that or either died from her previous wounds.
  • The military breaks into a building and grabs and struggles with various theater people.
  • Llosa punches a military man for taking their records (we see the results). Rejas then pushes one man aside and struggles with another until he's pulled away by others.
  • Some cops throw a suspect down while arresting her.
  • We hear gunshots on a videotape.
  • We briefly see a burning body hanging by its feet.
  • A car drives into a club and explodes (killing many people, but nothing explicit from a gore side).
  • Police use an explosive of some sort to blow a door open.
  • Upon being arrested, a woman tries to attack a man and briefly struggles with him (she also spits on him).

  • Reviewed April 8, 2003 / Posted May 9, 2003

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