STUDIO: Miramax
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 87 Minutes
Deleted Scenes
Secuestro Express: The Film & The Facts
Making of…
Music Video
English & Spanish Commentaries

The Pitch

MTV says it’s "City of God meets Goodfellas." I’ve never seen City of God, but they pretty much besmirched the glorious name of Scorcese’s masterpiece with this comparison. I’d say it’s more like a lazy script meets an ambitious but unorganized director.

Linus didn’t grow up normal at all.

The Humans

Mia Maestro, Carlos Madera, Carlos Julio Molina, Pedro Perez & Ruben Blades

The Nutshell

Apparently Caracas is the most dangerous city on Earth. I’ve never been there but I’ll take their word for it. In Caracas, people who are rich get kidnapped and held for ransom by the poor. This is the story of one such kidnapping.

The Package

Cover art is a mediocre Photoshop job at best. I like the background montage of photos, but the crossed red arms holding guns is really…ham-handed. Although it does accurately depict what you’ll find on the disc – generic imagery with no direction, creativity or originality. Hmm…turns out it’s a pretty good cover after all.

Dave Navarro got sick of people making lewd comments about his wife. This would be the last guy to ever do so.

The transfer is 1.85:1 widescreen and it looks fairly good. A lot of the movie is dark and you can see some artifacting in some places, but it’s nothing that’s going to really pull you out of the moment (the film itself does a marvelous job of that on its own). In the audio department there’s a Dolby surround track, but the sound design is somewhat lazy and they don’t really make a lot of use of the rear channels, so it might as well have been 2.0.

In the Bonus Department, there’s a lot of stuff but after sitting through the movie I honestly didn’t care to watch any of it. I really don’t need to hear how hard life is in Caracas (I got that from the movie) and I could care less what went in to making any one of these clichéd, redundant scenes.

The Lowdown

So here’s where I sigh. You know, in addition to the crappy artwork, there are these quotes that sort of litter the front and back of this case. Of course there’s the MTV Quote I mentioned above, but there’s also "GOES FULL THROTTLE! FAST & FURIOUS!" from the LA Times and "WHITE-HOT INTENSITY! SECUESTRO SIZZLES!" from AM New York. My question is this – what movie were you people watching? This movie is a lot of things, but intense? No. NO.

"I am a hotdog."

What kind of things? Well, for starters it’s unorganized. Secuestro Express is a film that, while ambitious, doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s not engaging enough to be a gripping social commentary and it’s not gritty enough to be a straight-up gangster film. But damn if it doesn’t try. Problem is, it’s like the film knows it’s failing so it switches gears constantly. "Here’s a look at the political aspect…ohh…that’s not working…okay…here’s some violence…hmmm…that didn’t work either…back to the politics!" And it never seems to find its way, as it flip-flops all the way up to its transparent, insipid climax. It’s like watching a first draft script unfold on screen.

Oh, and the script. Jesus Christ. Standard tough-guy posturing combined with standard victim rubbish. Going back to the Goodfellas comparison, "Go get your fucking shinebox" has more attitude, more menace and more charm then every word of dialogue in this entire film. And once you get past the dialogue, you get to the characterization, which (big surprise) is a disaster. On one end, you have these three gangsters. They’re supposed to be menacing, but they’re nothing more than caricatures. Mosaics of every other film gangster you’ve ever seen. And what makes it even worse is that in one scene they’re portrayed as ruthless, cold-blooded rapists and murderers and, in the very next scene, painted as Robin-Hood types. Sticking up for the little man. It completely dilutes the effect that either portrayal would have had if either one would have been left to itself. On the other end there’s the victims. The male victim is probably the only real character in the movie, while the female (who has been kidnapped at gunpoint) can’t decide if she’s scared and crying or laughing and joking around with these supposed thugs. At one point she even has a conversation with one of them saying she understands why they do what they do. They kidnapped her, beat her and attempt to rape her – all at gunpoint – and she understands? And it’s not even a case of Stockholm Sydrome, as she only understands until the next time the film wants to be gritty, then she’s blubbery and scared again.

After a few close calls, Ed McMahon decided to hire a security entourage when he went to deliver the Clearinghouse Prizes.

In the end, all of the above when combined with the overly-stylized, jittery camera work and editing and the seeming lack of Jonathan Jakubowicz’s ability to direct actors makes this a film that honestly had potential, but just had no idea what to do with it.

Goodfellas. Fuck that.

2 out of 10