Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón

Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón

Film review by: Witney Seibold

ladron3.jpg

            Or, roughly, “The Thief Who Steals from the Thief.”

            “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón” is a charming and immensely amusing caper film. It is modest, humorous, and has just enough politics to make it interesting without turning it polemical. I spent most of the film either smiling or giggling, and was impressed how this film, a foreign release that is getting a very limited distribution, is so much better than a high-concept heist picture like “Ocean’s Thirteen.” I guess “Ladrón” teaches us an important lesson: if you’re going to pull off a heist, make sure you stay below the radar.

 

            Moctezuma Valdez (Saúl Lisazo) is a charming fortysomething businessman with nice suits and a distinguished streak of grey. He has a beautiful wife, a rambunctious son, and a huge mansion on a hill in Southern California. And how did he make his money? By bilking the immigrant Latino community out of millions, selling “miracle” snake oil products on television. And stealing from one’s own community of Latino immigrants, in this universe, is a cardinal sin.

 

            Two of Valdez’ ex-associates, Emilio (Miguel Varoni, slimy and stalwart) and Alejandro (Fernando Colunga, a prettyboy through and through), have made their way out of various prisons, back to SoCal, and are itching for revenge on Valdez. They want to plan a heist on his mansion (Valdez keeps his assets in cash), but rather than use seasoned professionals (whom Valdez would recognize), they turn to the public sector for help – the idea being that Mexican janitors, housecleaners, mechanics, and gardeners are largely ignored by the rich that employ them. They enlist the usual rogue’s gallery of players: An expert driver/chauffeur (Ruben Garfias), his tomboy daughter (foxy model Ivonne Montero), a Cuban actor (Oscar Torre, very funny), a mumbly computer geek (JoJo Henrickson), and a stinky strongman (Gabriel Soto).

 

            The plot complications that ensue and heist details that are carefully explained to us, are all amusing, and even occasionally topical: One of the team is asked to incite a labor strike, and we see what a dirty word “union” is to big businesses. Most of the team is able to effortlessly enter and exit Valdez’ mansion if they wear jumpsuits or valet’s red vests. And they even have an in with Valdez’ pretty young nanny (Julie Gonzalo from “Veronica Mars”).

             But don’t think that “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón” is all political allegory and dull racial essay. It is, above all, a tight-enough-plotted and briskly paced crime comedy (think “Ocean’s Nueve”), that is frantic and fun and almost approaches madcap. It is worth seeking out on the smaller screens of some of the local multiplexes.  

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Published in: on September 5, 2007 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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