Paraguayan Thriller 7 Boxes Surges with High Spirits and Surprises


Marvelous footchases over, under, and through the stalls of a sprawling Asunción marketplace invigorate this twisty life-on-the-streets crime thriller, but it’s Paraguayan directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori’s adept human touch that makes those freewheeling sprints so marvelously tense. (Or simply marvelous, in the case of one flirtatious dash in which two teenagers court by racing to a public square.)

Likable hero Victor (Celso Franco) dreams young-man dreams as he scratches out a living hauling goods about in his wheelbarrow; he aches to be somebody, to have a cellphone that shoots video, to lean in and kiss some beauty like the men do on the TVs hung up all over his city.

How fortunate, then, that he lucks into the kind of adventure that will play well on those screens and most others, a suspenseful, slightly bloody trifle about seven nailed-shut crates Victor is asked to deliver by a man who’s clearly bad news.

Victor’s reward: the second half of a C-note, which is more cash than the kid’s ever seen. Inevitably, those boxes get hunted by the cops, by a squad of wheelbarrow-pushing criminals, and by a rival delivery man with a compelling backstory.

Some dopey cop comedy is a distraction, and the dialogue (in the English subtitles) is amusingly pedestrian: “Fuck! It’s hard to delegate!” shouts Bad Guy A. “Shit! Tell me about it!” Bad Guy B responds.

Still, the film surges by, powered by high spirits, well-plotted surprises, and the directors’ admirable attention to both the real and romantic — the somewhat fantastic adventures all start with a scrappy kid hoping to score the cash to buy a phone.