Alas, instead of a scathing critique of racial injustice, a revamping of the “man seeks revenge after his family is murdered/kidnapped” trope, the director delivers gratuitously violent, vulgar, clichéd, jaw-droppingly sexist, and racist cinematic bile.
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The director, Ulloa, tries to mask the derivative story by embellishing the violence, cutting to closeups of flesh wounds and bullet holes as a distraction from the routine plot and hardboiled dialogue — he seems to be aiming for stark and gritty, but his tough-talking assassins, crime lords and arms dealers bring the whole thing closer to unintentional camp.
There is something admirable about the sheer hopelessness of this narrative. It’s not altogether surprising given Schrader’s imprint, but it lacks the nuances of something like First Reformed or The Card Counter.
At its best, Alfonso Pineda Ulloa’s film gleefully embodies the grungy spirit of classic exploitation cinema.