'Secuestro Express'

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Secuestro Express
Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz
Miramax, opens August 5

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A focus on a timely social problem paired with an archetypal class-war tale would be a winning combination for Secuestro Express, were it not for the movie's strangely exploitative nature. The film centers on the late-night kidnapping of an upper-class Caracas couple (Mia Maestro and Jean Paul Leroux) by three sadistic blackmailers. Surely the Venezuelan director did his homework, but the scenario capitalizes on stereotypes of a sensationally dangerous Latin America—as if to tell us, "It's really as bad as you think down there." Secuestro Express uses fast cuts and sped-up urban joyrides to portray criminal, coke-induced mania, which although irritatingly recognizable ( GoodFellas, City of God ) still rouses a desperate energy. As social commentary, Secuestro Express doesn't go much further than regurgitating character types (poor little rich girl, thief with heart of gold) and reminding us of Caracas's class differences. The movie's raw depiction of Caracas is its strongest point, providing some fly-on-the-wall footage of a pulsating city.

 
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