do not typically find nacro-gangsterism exhibits at a World’s Fair. The Seville civic authorities aim to keep it
that way. A special four cop unit will
be turned loose with decidedly result-oriented rules of engagement in Alberto
Rodriguez’s Unit 7 (trailer here), which screens
during the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival, following its earlier
international premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
is an ambitious cop, but asthma (a biographical detail that may or may not loom
large later in the film) has cut short his hopes of career advancement. Instead, he is assigned to Unit 7, a small
autonomous squad charged with cleaning up Seville in the years leading up to
the 1992 World Expo. It is not the sort
of stint that looks good on a resume, but it is a good gig for snagging a spare
kilo here and there. As the years pass, Ángel’s
unit becomes a criminal outfit onto itself, but they remain steadfast taking
the fight to Seville’s hardcore bad guys.
in the unit is fiercer than the devout Rafael.
The term tightly wound does not even come close to describing him. However, when he tries to reform and possible
strike up a relationship with Lucía, an attractive junkie, he starts to mellow. It also opens up new vulnerabilities in the
Spanish Dirty Harry. Indeed, a major reckoning
is clearly in the wind.
a cop drama, Unit 7 is basically
standard issue stuff. The action
sequences are rather middling and the absence of a defining villain is a
drawback. In fact, despite its grit and
cynicism, the film is surprisingly sluggish at times. Still, Unit
7 has two things going for it: the cinematic march of time illustrated by
the yearly stages of the World Expo construction and the powerhouse work of
Antonio de la Torre as Rafael. While not
a showy performance, he seethes like a monster.
contrast, Mario Casas plays Ángel, the compromised idealist, like a petulant
frat boy. Rounding out the unit, Joaquín
Núñez’s Mateo is more like a schlubby Cheers
patron than a crooked vigilante cop, while José Manuel Poga does not even
get his own shtick as the bland Miguel.
However, Lucía Guerrero is convincingly all kinds of trouble as her
On paper, Unit
7 looks like a highly promising if not strikingly original concept. Yet, it never fully comes together. There is some stylishly work from
cinematographer Alex Catalán, a show-stopping turn from de la Torre, and a fair
number of memorable scenes scattered throughout the film, but there are few
surprises as to where it is all headed.
An okay time killer for those hooked on cop movies, but nothing more, Unit 7 screens June 8th and 9th
during the 2012 SIFF, hard on the heels of its fairly well received debut at
Labels: Cop Movies, SIFF '12, Spanish Cinema