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SECUESTRO EXPRESS (director/writer: Jonathan Jakubowicz; cinematographer: David Chalker; editor: Ethan Maniquis; music: Angelo Milli; cast: Mia Maestro (Carla), Carlos Julio Molina (Trece), Pedro Perez (Budu), Carlos Madera (Niga), Jean Paul Leroux (Martin), Rubén Blades (Carla’s father), Ermahn Ospina (Marcelo); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sandra Condito/Salomón Jakubowicz/Jonathan Jakubowicz; Miramax; 2004-Venezuela-in Spanish with English subtitles)
“An unpleasant watch that showed how sleazy films can get in trying to imitate reality and Tarantino.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director-writer Jonathan Jakubowicz’s ugly film (shot on on flickering digital video) is about class warfare and is set in modern Caracas. It’s an exploitative film that has nothing new to say as far as social commentary; all it does is spend the entire film telling us the obvious: how bad the situation really is that express kidnappings-for-profit have become a regular part of Venezuelan life. All the characters are stereotypes from their respective classes. It centers on the late-night car jacking and kidnapping in a mall of a young upper-class engaged couple, the pretty Carla (Mia Maestro) and the shallow Martin (Jean Paul Leroux), by three vicious blackmailers Budu (Pedro Perez), Niga (Carlos Madera) and Trece (Julio Molina).

The vics are taken on a scary urban joyride by the coke-induced thugs, who first stop off at gay drug dealer Marcelo’s luxury home. He supplies them with a suitcase filled with cocaine if he could have sex with Martin, it will turn out that Martin enjoys it, to the dismay of Carla, as he’s a closet gay. The kidnapping continues with a series of brutalities, threats of rape and execution, as the couple’s factory owner and doctor fathers are asked to come up with 40 grand each or else. It doesn’t end when the sadistic trio get their money, but shows the police to be corrupt and possibly more dangerous than these thugs. It lays the blame on society for creating this huge economic imbalance between the starving “have nots” and the overfed “haves.”

The film’s best moments are capturing the rawness of the bustling city life, but other than that it was an unpleasant watch that showed how sleazy films can get in trying to imitate reality and Tarantino.

REVIEWED ON 12/2/2005 GRADE: C –

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”