Movie Review: El Desconocido

The title El Desconocido translates to The Stranger. So I wonder who decided to name this movie as Retribution when it was marketed outside Spain. The whole movie revolves around a phone call from a stranger. The stranger is trying to exact revenge from the protagonist. But the name "Retribution" tends to classify the movie as a B-grade or even a C-grade. On an ordinary day, the hero gets into his car with his two kids. Once inside the car, he gets a phone call. As soon as the trio sat in the car, a bomb was activated. Now they can't get out of the car. Sitting inside the car among the hysterical kid, the hero has to finish financial transactions over the phone to keep his family alive. The theme is reminiscent of the Hollywood movie Speed but set on a much smaller scale. Even the movie Phone Booth has a similar theme. But still, the movie keeps us engaged.

Dani de la Torre kicks off his movie without wasting time. So a few minutes into the film, we know the hero Carlos(Luis Tosar) works in a bank, has a strained relationship with his wife, and the bomb is activated. At this point, we are worrying about the next 80 odd minutes. How will Dani de La Torre takes us through the rest of the movie without making us yawn? It is indeed a daunting task. As all the events unfold inside the car, there is nothing much the director can move the camera around to focus on the various actors in a close-up. With each successive acts, Dani de la Torre introduces situations and characters that make this thriller engaging. There are arguments inside the car, revelations about relationships, car chases, bomb squads and the confrontation with the tormentor. All the above are neatly packaged and revealed in such a smooth manner that we are hooked all the time.

The movie succeeds to capture our interest because of the effortless performances by Luis Tosar and the actors playing his kids on screen namely Paula del Rio and Marco Sanz. The trio manages to keep us on tenterhooks. They are a dysfunctional family who has to come to terms with each other by trusting each other. There are complications in the third act. At this point, we are ready to suspend our disbelief despite the nagging doubt about the possibility of such events.

With never-before-seen faces, close up photography and suspense, I still recommend this movie for a quiet evening.

Language: Spanish

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ***