by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Leonardo Sbaraglia as TOMAS
Eusebio Poncela as FEDERICO
Monica Lopez as SARA
Antonio Dechent as ALEJANDRO
Max von Sydow as SAMUEL
Studio: Lion’s Gate
Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
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I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t have watched “Intacto” were it not for the fact that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is behind the upcoming thriller “28 Weeks Later.” In fact, I doubt I would have even been aware of this Spanish import, were it not that the great Danny Boyle himself had tapped Fresnadillo for the job based on his work on “Intacto.”
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However, with these facts in place, I’m glad I had a chance to see this film.
“Intacto” takes a general premise we saw in “The Cooler” and sends it into a much darker world. Rather than having a cooler saved by a heart-of-gold love affair, we see a cooler get swept up in a dangerous world of gambling and murder.
The story opens in a Spanish casino where Federico (Eusebio Poncela) works as a cooler. He’s ordered to a table where someone’s having a lot of luck so he can suck the luck out of him by touch. However, after crossing Samuel the casino owner (Max von Sydow), he’s beaten up and left for dead.
Seven years down the road, Federico is searching for another lucky person who can drain the luck from others. He finds it in plane-crash victim Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a young man who is also on the run after robbing a bank. A zealous police detective named Sara (Monica Lopez) is hot on Tomas’s trail after he escapes form the hospital following the plane crash.
Federico introduces Tomas to the world of lucky gambling, a series of seemingly random games in which the stakes are high and the luckiest person wins. Federico wants Tomas to help him avenge Samuel in a game of luck.
“Intacto” is quite different from your standard American thriller. It takes its time and moves down some paths you might not otherwise see at the movies. I appreciated the way it balanced real-life dangers with an otherwise unbelievable premise. Whether or not you believe in luck, it’s an easy pill to swallow to enjoy “Intacto.”
Instead of blasting through its plot with reckless abandon, “Intacto” moves somewhat slowly. Each character – Federico, Tomas and Sara – have their own problems with luck, both good and bad. Their lives are tied together by seemingly random circumstance, but they have their own greater connection. While it runs a bit slow, “Intacto” doesn’t bore, and the ending is interesting to see played out, if not a bit predictable.
After seeing “Intacto,” I am even more interested in seeing what Fresnadillo does with “28 Weeks Later.” Too many thrillers today rely on flash and gore to make them work. Giving the project to someone with a little more patience and a greater vision could make this sequel well worth the wait.
Specifications: Dolby Digital Sound. Spanish and English language track. English subtitles.