Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Hacia La Oscuridad|
Actors: America Ferrera, Roberto Urbina, David Sutcliffe, William Atherton, Tony Plana
Director: Jose' Antonio Negret
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
A tense 90 minute look into a kidnapped hostage's life, and the frustration his family, a special ops team, and a man delivering the ransom money all face as they rush to save him.
Concept With Promise, Bad Execution.
Mr. Fellini | El Paso, Texas United States | 06/20/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"For a low-budget thriller, there are some things to admire in "Towards Darkness" including its cinematography and incredibly authentic settings. But the film misses the mark by intriguing us with a fascinating concept based on important events most Americans are not aware of, and then wasting the opportunity by reducing the story to typical action movie cliches.
The film starts with promise as we see a young Colombian man bound and tied, we don't know where and we are not sure why he has been kidnapped. This is intercut with shots of his wealthy parents negotiating with a villainous kidnapper with the aid of American contractors. These scenes grab us and manage to generate suspense, and the characters have good establishing moments at the beginning as we meet Jose Gutierrez (Roberto Urbina), the son of high class Colombians who visits his homeland and rekindles a romance with a childhood sweetheart played by America Ferrera of "Ugly Betty" fame. Director Antonio Negret also establishes his story in powerful, wonderous settings as he takes us on a visual tour of Colombia, its lush jungles, coastal cities and inner neighborhoods. There is never a doubt for anyone who has ever visited South America, that this film is taking place where it says it's taking place.
But half-way through the movie loses steam, mostly because the most fascinating aspects of the story, Jose's kidnapping and Colombia's social crisis, are brushed aside for useless action movie characters including a former military man and CIA people trying to conduct a rescue. We are forced to sit through endless shots of the American driving around a city, facing a traffic jam and zigzagging through neighborhoods, over and over. And for half the film we are treated to endless wide shots of a military helicopter hovering over lush South American jungle patches and swamps. The Americans cardboard characters quickly slapped together out of Tom Clancy yarns, their dialogue mostly consists of lines such as "I need wings and guns," "no problem, I know guys who owe me favors," and "we've never operated much there," "tell that to Pablo Escobar." Right.
Colombia's civil war and drug culture do merit attention, especially since the country is currently the #1 recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America and one of our top military clients besides Israel. A fascinating, profound story can be pulled from the conflict, consider Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterful book "News Of A Kidnapping." But Negret is more concerned with cool Ridley Scott-inspired flash cuts and pans, saturated images of guns, speeding cars and pounding music. We never even really understand how the bad guys materialized. The conflict involving the FARC and ELN rebels is quickly thrown at us in one rushed car conversation. All we understand, or all that Negret believes Americans need to know, is that the FARC and ELN are commies, the end. The script feels very detached or hollow, without any serious attempt at giving us a meaningful story involving what Colombians go through everyday.
To be fair, there were some things that make the movie stand out. There are the beautiful settings, some great regional music, and the ending is surprising and unexpected. Some of the performances are notable, especially Tony Plana (JFK, The Disappearance Of Garcia Lorca) as Jose's father. The moments involving Jose and Ferrera are sweet and there is a chemistry between both actors. But, it all goes to waste when the movie gets into Jerry Bruckheimer mode and doesn't even give us one notable action scene.
Colombia's civil war is most certainly worth a movie or two, but "Towards Darkness" could take place anywhere, chances are you've never been to Colombia, or know much about South America, which in this case is fine because you've already seen this movie."