February 1, 2006 -- “Secuestro Express” is horrifying tale of crime and chaos in Venezuela. Two wealthy people are kidnapped by a gang of crooks who demand a ransom from their wealthy parents. Most of the film takes place while the victims are being held hostage. The kidnappers are wildly unpredictable and exhibit very erratic and violent behavior. The film uses flashy camera techniques to good effect. Lots of speeded up scenes contribute to the high energy of the movie.
The film shows that the police are as corrupt as the criminals in this society. In the United States, relatively few crimes are committed against the rich by the poor, but this film depicts the poor preying upon the rich. In America, the rich fear poor criminals, even though they are seldom victims. If they really were targeted as victims as they are in this film one wonders what lengths they would go to in order to ensure their safety.
I think the wealthy would enact laws that make the Patriot Act look very tame by comparison. I don't think there are any lengths to which the wealthy would go to ensure their own safety. This hasn't happened in Venezuela perhaps because there is too much chaos for any kind of order to be established. This film should help kill whatever tourism industry is left in Venezuela.
There is an interesting quote at the end of the film: “Half the world is dying of starvation, while the other half is dying of obesity. There are two options: Fight the monster, or invite him to dinner.” In this country, we are still fighting the monster, by imprisoning the highest percentage of our citizens of any industrialized nation. This is a temporary solution at best. It only makes the monster stronger, and more determined to kill us. The actors in the film are very convincing. The actors playing the criminals are very scary. The kidnap victims, a young woman named Carla (played by Mía Maestro of the “Alias” TV show) and her fiancé, Martin (Jean Paul Leroux) are suitably terrified. Martin, born into privilege, is oblivious to the dangers around him, while Carla seems to have more sense. This film has scenes you don't see in Hollywood movies, like a stump of a man on a skateboard begging money from a kidnapper.
There are people in the world who long for chaos. They call themselves anarchists. This film gives one vision of what anarchy is like, on a small scale, at least. There was a movie a few years back called Sphere which made the argument that chaos is evil. I don't know if this film is trying to make the same argument, but one could interpret it that way. One argument the film does seem to be making is that the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty can lead to monstrous evil. I would add a third component, pervasive media images of sex, violence and consumerism. As noted anthropologist Margaret Mead once wrote: “No society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded.” This film rates a B.
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