What fun! This is one of those flicks you'll walk away from with a big grin on your mug. LADRON QUE ROBA A LADRON (To Rob A Thief) is a 2007 indie, budgeted with not much money, and is in Spanish, but with English sub-titles. It stars a stellar cast of unknowns - unknowns, that is, if you only watch Hollywood pictures. Apparently, quite a few of these cats make their bones in Latin tele-novelas and most have never before done feature films. No worries, though; everyone holds their own. And the lead villain, Saul Lisazo, is outstanding!
So this is a heist film, and an excellent one. Character driven, even socially relevant, it's also pretty damn funny. LADRON... opens with a humorous sequence involving a television infomercial guru hawking his cheesy wares. LADRON...'s director is pretty much a newbie, yet, going by this gem of a sequence, you sense that you're in good hands. The plot centers on two Latin thieves, Alejandro and Emilio, who come to Los Angeles to pull off a heist, their mark being another thief, who happens to be that very same infomercial guru, Moctesuma 'Mocte' Valdez.
Valdez's infomercials, needless to say, are straight out scams. A big reason for Valdez being targeted is that he callously preys on his trusting fellow Latinos, immigrants to America. This really bugs Alejandro and Emilio. Valdez's products don't work and only the most gullible or desperate would even consider them. He sells various hand creams which can either make you lose weight or enlarge your member; there's a magic bracelet which cures arthritis; and, most reprehensibly, there's Agua de Dios (Water of God), which Valdez claims can cure cancer. Alejandro and Emilio have decided: dude must fall.
Suckering the Latino community has made Valdez millions. He keeps his cash loot in a vault in his opulent mansion, and guarded by a state-of-the-art security system and a team of bodyguards. To pull off the heist, Alejandro and Emilio are forced to hire on a bunch of immigrants. Twist is, these immigrants aren't professional grifters. They're day laborers, who must now pick up the tricks of the con. Their lack of expertise in this department tends to aggravate Emilio, a pro's pro. But, even more importantly, it presents the audience with plenty of chances to laugh.
LADRON QUE ROBA A LADRON is an independent venture, yeah, but it does flaunt a bit of a Hollywood feel. As such, this picture speaks to every audience, although it may speak just a tad louder to minorities. One theme presented is that minorities - in this instance, the Latino immigrants - are often rendered socially invisible. Because of their menial jobs (and, yup, their nationalities), they're able to access high-security venues, virtually unnoticed. The two rogues, Emilio and Alejandro, are actually counting on that. So, absolutely, the filmmakers manage to sneak in some social commentary. But they do it with humor, instead of a hammer. The end of the film is a particular middle finger to the Man (the Man, ironically, in this instance, being a Latino himself).
Like all noteworthy heist cinema, we're treated to a slew of nicely realized conventions in the genre. Again, budget considerations dictated that this film won't even come close to, say, the Ocean flicks in terms of glitz, complexity, or technical aspects. Still, what we get is more than adequate. The con is pretty straightforward, yeah, although there is one twist near the end which I didn't see coming. But there's enough audacity on display here, enough clever subterfuge, timely distractions, and reversals of fortunes.
I really think that LADRON QUE ROBA A LADRON is a classic in the making. Yes, it's in Spanish and sub-titled. Trust me, you'll be speedily caught up in the story; before you know it, you'll forget you're reading sub-titles. There are some good laughs and there are big laughs. One instance is the intro of Primitivo, the inhouse accountant; that bit had me giggling like a Frenchman. The good guys are very likable and interesting, with my favorite being Miguelito, the Cuban thespian, and Rafaela, the tomboyish girl mechanic. Ivonne Montero is Rafaela, and, apparently, she's more well known for playing sophisticated, sensuous women. But these women can't possibly be as engaging as Rafaela.
For those who're into special features, the ones here are okay. Several deleted scenes; the inevitable "Making Of" segment; and an audio commentary (in English) by the film's director and by the writer. This commentary generally makes for an interesting listen except for when the director goes off on his self-absorbed "trusting your director" tangents. I think that may be the only negative I can come up with about this dvd.
Go see this one (Man, this review has a weak finish).