Tuesday, August 20, 2013

""El Cartel" with Jose Luis Franco (2009)

When a young and naïve journalist approaches a major Mexican drug lord for a story about drug trafficking, he gets much more than he bargained for in this tense, well-constructed film about what happens on our Southern border. José Luis Franco plays drug lord Angel Santana, and Freddy Douglas plays Jules Land, the journalist.

Angel had been a priest, but the lure of the money to be made, along with the indifference of the authorities, have turned him into one of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords. He has, along the way to his success, developed a set of rules which he now teaches to Jules.

Soon, Jules realizes that he is in way too deep for his own health, but knows too much about the operations of Angel’s cartel to quit with his life. Complicating matters are the advances of Angel’s wife, a beautiful woman whose father was murdered by Angel when his father-in-law threatened to turn him in for trafficking in narcotics.

What makes this movie work so well is the way it is put together. The film starts with what the viewer perceives to be the ending, and then the director uses flashbacks to each of the points which have led to the predicament Jules finds himself in; tied up aboard a fishing boat and waiting to die.

Along with the clever direction the film also moves back and forth between Spanish and English dialogue, giving an edgy real life feel to the film. If you do not use the close captioning, you can feel left out of some of the conversations, leaving you feeling just as uneasy and unsure as Jules would have felt in the same situation. The story is filmed flawlessly; with the heat of the desert by day, as well as the coolness of the night air on the fishing boat, both coming to life; adding to a sense of realism in this film.

Mexico is not the biggest producer of drugs, but the largest distributor of both the cocaine and marijuana which come up from South America. This film is a timely, and also fairly accurate, look at the drug cartels which rule our neighbor to the south; as well an insight into what makes all of this possible to begin with.

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