Cinematic cons and heists are, by nature, fairly implausible, but the more successful ones work a deft sleight of hand to make the characters (and audience members) sweat over whether the high-risk plans will go awry. Not so with Ladrón que roba a ladrón, a painfully limp comedy-thriller with such preposterous, lazy execution that it comes off as a Spanish-language episode of The A-Team.
It’s no surprise that the director is a TV veteran whose fondness for blandly slick camerawork, overbearing music cues and broad acting doesn’t leave much room for subtlety or finesse. The bathetic Robin Hood premise involves two thieves (Colunga and Varoni) and their scheme to burgle one of their own, a crook-turned-magnate (Saúl Lisazo) who has made a mint selling crappy cure-alls to desperate immigrants. The twist is that the thieves’ accomplices are all novices whose heritage gives them the fire in the belly to avenge their Latino brethren.
Producer James M. McNamara (a born and bred Panamanian) made Ladrón for the underserved Spanish-language market in the U.S. The impulse is commendable, but the nobler act would be to give better distribution to Central and South American films that can’t make the border crossing.