Those wacky Spanish writers and directors must be doing something right over there. Spain is quietly and slowly churning out literate, mind-bendingly weird movies that require some thought and are actually fun to watch. Movies like Open Your Eyes, Sex and Lucia, and maybe even one like The Devil's Backbone (which is probably just as Mexican as it is Spanish) are all good examples of movies that would be difficult to make here in the United States. Intacto is the latest example. Although not as strong storywise, it does have an interesting premise that mixes in a little bit of Unbreakable with a little bit of Final Destination. A really good sign of its promise is that there are already plans to remake the movie in English.

The premise is that 'luck' is something tangible. A person can "take" another person's luck, and in essence become luckier him/herself. There are very few people who possess the power to take the luck of others, and they compete in games of chance, trying to win even more luck for themselves. These games toy with the lives of others, and have the feel of illegal gambling casinos. The latest person to discover that he has is strange ability is Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia, Burning Money, The Books and the Night), the only survivor of a plane crash. Federico (Eusebio Poncela, Tuno Negro, Sagitario), finds Tomas and takes him under his wing, guiding him through this clandestine world. The ultimate game of chance is with Samuel (Max von Sydow, Minority Report, Druids), a Holocaust survivor holed up in a remote casino. Nobody has beaten this person in decades.

A premise like this would seem to merit a lot of forethought when developing a script. But screenwriters Andres M. Koppel and (director) Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Linked) leave many plot threads hanging and don't quite explain what some characters are doing or why there are there in the first place. If the plotting were tighter, Intacto would be a great movie. Nobody really knows why Sara (Monica Lopez, The Other Side, La Monos), a police officer, is so intent on arresting Tomas, although she herself is one of the people who is extra lucky. Still, Fresnadillo and Koppel do manage to weave in convincing stories and motivations for Samuel, Tomas, and Federico, and gives a plausible reason for all of them converging on the casino. Fresnadillo does have an eye for arresting visuals, with lots of contrasts between light and dark. The most memorable image is one of the contests, where blindfolded contestants run through a forest. The winner in these games is always the luckiest, in this case, the last person not to run into a tree.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 48 minutes, Spanish and English with English subtitles, Rated R for language, some violence, and brief nudity.

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