Time Out says
Tue Jun 13 2006Since 9/11, films dealing with terrorism have become more ‘serious’; it’s hard now to dish up the mindlessly offensive hokum that underpinned the superheroic fantasies serving as vehicles for Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Seagal. Still, if this slick Spanish suspenser – based on the experiences of a seemingly ordinary Basque bloke persuaded by Franco’s secret police in the early ’70s to infiltrate ETA as an undercover informant – may aspire to Michael Mann-style action-tropes and (also vainly) to an even-handedness in its political leanings, it never gets beyond clichés. Eduardo Noriega plays Txema, troubled not only by a failing construction business but by divided feelings about Franco’s oppression of his people; he sympathises with those fighting the dictatorship, but so abhors violence he feels moved to warn an informant who’s targeted by a couple of ETA fellows he knows. At which point one sharp-witted Spanish cop decides to play on his guilt and enlist his help; soon Noriega’s hanging with various ETA types – including, naturally, a beautiful, sexually compliant folk singer who seduces him away from his wife by bedding him in her balaclava …
That’s merely the most obvious absurdity in a film where virtually the only Basques seen are terrorists, virtually the only Spanish harsh authority figures, and the Basques invariably address each other in Castilian (apart from the odd ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’) – even in private. Politics, moreover, is conspicuously absent from the script; there’s no sense of what really motivates the Basque desire for autonomy or independence, so the trite arguments as to the relative value of democratic over violent methods of resistance exist here in a historical vacuum. Trivial and meretricious; small wonder no Basque names appear in the credits for the cast or major creative personnel.
Author: Geoff Andrew
Fri Jun 16, 2006