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Fantastic Fest Review: UNIT 7 Is A Solid Entry Into The Genre

Hulk calls it kind of story worth telling time and time again.

Fantastic Fest Review: UNIT 7 Is A Solid Entry Into The Genre

CROOKED COPS. COMPLEX DRUG NETWORKS. CITY POLITICS.

YOU'VE SEEN IT BEFORE, BUT IT REMAINS ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE SUB-GENRES. ASIDE FROM MAKING GOOD CINEMA, IT'S ALWAYS RIPE FOR A POTENT MIX OF INTENSITY, BRAVADO AND EGO THAT GETS CROSSED BETWEEN THE DRAWING LINES OF FAMILY AND SOCIETY AT LARGE. MEANING THAT INSTEAD OF JUST MAKING FOR GOOD CINEMA IT MAKES FOR GOOD DRAMA.

WHAT GIVES UNIT 7 AN INTERESTING ANGLE IS THAT IT DRAWS ON REAL EVENTS OF LATE 80'S/EARLY 90'S SPAIN, IN WHICH SEVILLA BEGAN CRACKING DOWN ON DRUGS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA IN PREPARATION FOR THE BEAUTIFICATION/GENTRIFICATION REQUIRED FOR THEIR HOSTING OF EXPO 92 (BETTER KNOWN IN AMERICA AS "THE WORLD'S FAIR." YEAH IT'S STILL A THING AND REGARDED AS A VERY, VERY HUGE DEAL ELSEWHERE, EVEN IF AMERICA'S KINDA LOST INTEREST IN IT). THIS STORY IS FAR FROM SINGULAR AS SO MUCH CITY POLITICKING DEPENDS ON SIMILAR "SPRING CLEANING" TACTICS WHICH JUST TEND TO SHIFT THE PROBLEM TO SOME OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD. AND RIGHT NOW THAT SITUATION IS DRAWING REAL PARALLELS WITH WHAT IS GOING ON IN BRAZIL WITH THE APPROACHING WORLD'S CUP. IT IS ESSENTIALLY ALL A BIG GAME OF "MAKE IT NICE FOR THE TOURISTS AT ANY COST." AND ANYTIME ONE IS HANDED THAT KIND OF POWER IT TENDS TO COME WITH A VAST AMOUNT OF CORRUPTION. AND ANYONE FAMILIAR WITH THE NATURE OF THE DRUG TRADE KNOWS THAT A CORRUPT COP IS OFTEN THE MOST SUCCESSFUL IN BRINGING ARREST NUMBERS (USUALLY OF RIVAL GANGS).

BUT BEYOND THE SOCIO-POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF CORRUPTION, WHAT REALLY  MAKES UNIT 7 WORK IS:

1) THE STRENGTH OF THE CORE PERFORMANCE - THE BEST OF WHICH BEING MARIO CASAS AS ANGEL, WHO IS OUR RECKLESS UPSTART, ANTONIO DE LA TORRE WHO EMBODIES THE BRUTISH AND BROODING RAPHEAL, AN IDEALOGUE DEEPLY UNEASY WITH THE CONFLICTS OF THEIR OWN CORRUPTION AND HYPOCRISY, AND THE FUNNY AND CHARISMATIC JOAQUIN NUNEZ WHO REALLY REMINDED HULK OF A SPANISH JOE POLITO.

2) THE ASSURED DIRECTION OF ALBERTO RODRIGUEZ - THE FILM REFRAINS FROM ANY OVERT STYLIZATION AND INSTEAD RELIES ON THE POWER OF SIMPLE OBSERVANCE. IT APPROACHES THE STORY WITH QUIET RESERVATION AND RELIES ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RELATIONSHIPS  TO PROPEL OUR INTEREST. AT ITS BEST IT EVEN FEELS VAGUELY LIKE SIMON AND LEVINSON'S HOMICIDE (WHICH IS A BIG COMPLIMENT).

BUT REALLY, THE CENTRAL QUESTION WITH THIS "SOLID ENTRY IN THE GENRE" BUSINESS IS THAT IT BEGS THE QUESTION "WHAT DOES A MOVIE REALLY NEED TO DO?" THERE ARE MANY WHO MAY WALK OUT OF THE FILM AND WONDER WHAT MAKES THIS FILM SO SPECIAL? WHY SHOULD IT EXIST? IT'S A VALID QUESTION. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A GOOD MOVIE WELL MADE IF IT IS TREADING ON ULTIMATELY FAMILIAR GROUND?

HULK ARGUES THAT IF THE FILM SPEAKS TO CERTAIN TRUTHS AND MANAGES TO LOCALIZE ITS STORY THEN IT'S THE KIND OF THING WORTH TELLING TIME AND TIME AGAIN. THE PROBLEMS OF CITY CORRUPTION AND THE WAY WE SWEEP OUR UGLINESS UNDER THE RUG IS ALWAYS AN IMPORTANT TRUTH TO ILLUMINATE. AND IT'S EASY TO FORGET THAT SOMETIMES MOVIES SHOULD SERVE THAT ONGOING PROCESS OF ILLUMINATION. THERE'S ALWAYS A NEW GENERATION TO PASS ON THE IDEA.

IN A CULTURE WHICH TENDS TO COPYCAT SUCCESS IN ALL THE WRONG WAYs, IT IS SOMETIMES IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER WE "RECYCLE" CERTAIN TROPES AND IDEAS DOWN THROUGH TIME BECAUSE THEY ARE WORTH IT.  AND LIKE REAL MATERIAL RECYCLING, IT CAN BE DONE FOR THE BEST OF REASONS.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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