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comment by Mike Feb 18, 2004Based on the real life Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, first time director Malkovich avoids specifics and simply declares at the beginning of the film that we are in Latin America.
Malkovich describes the film as a "reflection on the nature of corruption". Corruption certainly abounds, but at the centre of the film's world is the honest policeman, played by Javier Bardem. It is worth watching this film just for Bardem's astonishing
performance alone. He brings out the strength of his characters essential decency and honesty but in a way that avoids simplicity; this person is ordinary and fearful and vulnerable, but also
courageous and determined. Bardem never resorts to the flamboyant gesture; his style is all powerful restraint.
But Bardem is not the only good thing in this film. The movie manages to deal with a serious and relevant theme – corruption and terrorism – with some intelligence. Malkovich not only shows in
graphic and moving detail the horror of terrorism, but he goes a little way to trying to understand it.
Some of the story telling relies on obvious devices, but on the whole this is a film that is definitely worth seeing.
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