Tribeca Movie Review: UNIT 7 (special jury, cinematography)

Directed by: Alberto Rodriguez
Screenplay by: Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodriguez
Cast: Antonio de la Torre, Mario Casas, Joaquin Nuñez, Jose Manuel Poga, Imma Cuesta, Julian Villagran, Estefania de los Santos, Lucia Guerrero
Running Time: 92 minutes

Finally. An action film that’s more about the characters than the chase … even though the chase is damn good. Lensed by cinematographer Alex Catalán (who received the Tribeca Special Jury Mention for his work), there’s not one shake in this smooth action-cam as it thrillingly follows the ethically challenged police force of Unit 7 while they raid crack-and-smack infused tenements, tearing after bad guys through narrow alleys, over rooftops and into dank cellars. The camera work is such a departure, we almost forget that there were decades of high-powered thrills and spills without so much as one palsied frame in view. (Ben-Hur’s chariot, Bullit’s Mustang, Terminator’s motorcycle, Marty McFly’s skateboard … wow. Damn you, Paul Greengrass and your jittery Jason Bourne!)

Directed by Alberto Rodriguez, co-written by Rodriguez and Rafael Cobos (7 Virgins, After), this film noir/cop thriller is set in Spain, in the years preceding the Seville World Exposition of 1992 (“Expo ’92″). The story reflects the actual events, starting in 1987, in which Seville frantically began preparation for the world stage of Expo ’92 by upgrading its infrastructure, building bridges, pavilions, roads, etc. But given that the city was in a state of weedy neglect and lackadaisical corruption, the authorities were desperate to whitewash their city in a new light of tourist-friendly bonhomie – postcard-pretty, safe and clean. When some members of the police – such as this fictional Unit 7 – achieved considerable success in routing out drugs and thugs, the higher-ups chose to ignore the fact that some of the crime fighters’ methods were less than savory. As filmmaker Rodriguez states, “And the truth is that whenever an important event takes place, it is necessary to clean up, [and] host cities must shine. And this gave way to the film’s premise: everyone looks the other way when it’s ‘necessary.’”

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[For the full review, and Kimberly’s EXCELLENT! rating, please click here]

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