Everybody in Nicotina smokes.  What is the significance of this?  Nothing.  What is the point of this film?  Hard to say.  Nicotina is what happens when somebody enjoys Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction, all of its derivative films, then decides to make a derivative of a derivative.  There are some interesting stylistic touches, but for the most part, this film is a jumble of characters running around in search of a plot.  There is basically no plot.  What starts off as an elaborate scheme to steal money from a bank fizzles, and Nicotina follows the various principals around as things keep going wrong, people keep getting killed, and an ever-increasing amount of people get drawn into the happenings.  The one definite thing is that there are no good guys in this movie.

Nicotina stars Diego Luna (The Terminal, Dirty Dancing:  Havana Nights), who is building an impressive resume in English and Spanish-language films.  Although there have been some stinkers along the way, Luna is good enough to weather those, and this one.  Luna is Lolo, a computer geek who is also obsessed with his neighbor Andrea (Marta Belaustegui, So Far Away, X).  He set up tapped her phones and set up cameras in order to spy on her at his convenience.  He is also a hacker, and his friend Nene (Lucas Crespi, Rodrigo) and his boss Thompson (Jesus Ochoa, Man on Fire, Ladies Night) want him to get the codes into a Swiss bank account.  They are going to trade this disc of information with Svoboda (Norman Sotolong), a Russian.  Unfortunately, Lolo is too easily distracted by Andrea, so things do not necessarily turn out the way they should have.

Along the way, Goyo (El Ladron de Sombras, I Murder Seriously), a barber, and his wife Clara (Carmen Madrid, The Virgin of Lust) and Carmen (Rosa Maria Bianchi, Dust to Dust, Amores Perros), who works in a pharmacy owned by her overbearing husband Beto (Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Y Tu Mama Tambien, The Virgin of Lust) slowly become enmeshed into the ever-widening circle of chaos and violence engulfing this botched trade.  The point of Nicotina was presumably a dark comedy, with some meditations on karma and fate, but director Hugo Rodriguez (In the Middle of Nowhere) and screenwriter Martin Salinas (Van Van, Let's Party, Under a Spell) opt for loud music and some snappy visual effects to substitute for any meaningful plot or character development. 

Acknowledging the potential inattentiveness or boredom of the viewer, Rodriguez at times highlights something on the screen by boxing it and blurring the rest of the picture.  It is to point out something important that somebody has picked up, or something in the distance.  It's pretty obvious, or will be within minutes, but he still does it.  As mentioned before, everybody is a slime ball in some manner or another.  And sometimes it's hard identifying with these characters because they are so stupid.  Maybe that's the point, but many of the decisions made by these characters are pretty asinine, and they are the only ones at fault for their predicaments.  The mood is nice.  Everything takes place over the course of a night, in a section of town that looks slightly run-down.  But Nicotina needs a lot more than this to be a better movie.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated R for violence and language.

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