Secuestro Express

It was bound to happen. With Bob and Harvey Weinstein leaving Miramax, and Disney taking Miramax in a new direction, it was time to clear the shelves and see if they could make a quick buck on some of the unreleased films. The Warrior and The Great Raid were released and left theaters quickly. Most of these films sat unreleased because somebody at Miramax felt they would not do well. Sometimes they are wrong, but sometimes they are right. Secuestro Express is another one of those forgotten films. And it is horrible.

Kidnapping in Latin America is a problem. According to the film, a kidnapping takes place every hour. Secuestro Express purports to tell the story of one of those kidnappings, specifically in Venezuala. Carla (Mia Maestro, The Holy Girl, The Motorcycle Diaries) and her boyfriend Martin (Jean Paul Leroux) are the victims, chosen at random because they drove a nice car in a bad part of town. Writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz (Distance, Ships of Hope) then proceeds to bore audiences to death, focusing more on trying to make the film look cool rather than telling a good story.

This is where Jakubowicz falters. He looks like he is going for a Tarantino-esque feel, but it is so derivative that it is all for empty show. The handheld camera moves wildly around the screen. Title cards introduce each of the thugs. Quick zooms, weird angles, and loud music punctuate the proceedings. There is an awful lot of dialogue, but none of it is memorable or clever. All of this has the effect of making a ninety-minute film feel even longer. Not a good thing.

Secuestro Express also has the misfortune of arriving in theaters after Man on Fire. While that was not a great film, it succeeded in making the kidnapping personal. Here, Carla's father Ruben Blades (Spin, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) makes an appearance near the beginning and at the end, but for the most part, he is persona non grata. Instead, the movie focuses on Carla's interaction with her three kidnappers, Trece (Carlos Julio Molina), Budu (Pedro Perez), and Niga (Carlos Madera).

Martin and Carla are at the mercy of the three. They are in it purely for the money. They have no intention of killing the two, because that would mean their payday is over. Of course they neglect to mention this fact to Carla or Martin. As time drags on, an event changes circumstances, upping the stakes for everybody. Trece, Budu, and Niga begin arguing amongst themselves. Niga takes a liking to Carla, who may or may not be developing Stockholm Syndrome. There's lots of yelling, some violence, and all of it is thoroughly uninteresting. All of what Maestro does is react. She screams, she cowers, and she cries. The men are all one-dimensional characters. And Jakubowicz has nothing interesting to say about kidnapping, or anything else for that matter.

Mongoose Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 26 minutes, Spanish witn English subtitles, Rated R for strong violence, drug use, sexuality, and language.

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