Below Zero (2021) Review

A Great build up and stellar second act that inevitably lead to a disappointing and predictable ending. 

Certificate: 18

Director: Lluís Quílez

Screenwriter: Fernando Navarro, Lluís Quílez

Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Karra Elejalde, Luis Callejo

Genre: Action, Crime

Runtime: 106 Minutes

Language: Spanish

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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On a lonely road, a prison transport is brutally assaulted. Martin, the policeman who was driving, survives and fortifies his position while the con men search for a way to escape the truck and work out the motives of the man that has attacked them, and seemingly has a grudge against one of the men inside.

After a slightly slow build up, giving us time to be introduced to all of our characters, learn a little about their personalities etc, this film does a great job of building up the suspense and threat.  The whole second act where Martin is trapped in the truck with the escaped inmates is easily the best part of the film.  The rapid swap in power dynamic gives us chance to see different aspects to the characters and gives them a chance to form tentative relationships and alliances.

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Where it lost it’s way was during the third act.  Stopping the action for way too long to explain the motivations of the villain, and then Martin having a way too fast change of heart right at the end really took me out of the moment.  I mean the transformation of Martin was foreshadowed throughout the whole film, with so many references to his need to follow rules etc, but I would have liked for it to have not been so predictable in it’s ending. 

The level of violence and gore in this film I am guessing is meant to add a dark, shocking element to get a reaction from audiences, as are the occasional attempts at artistic shots.  But as the film never wholly commits to either of these ideas, it mostly falls by the wayside.  What we end up with is a film that is pretty good for two thirds of the way, a great and engaging thriller for fans of the genre, but that ultimately lets you down in the closing act with a below average ending.  But in my opinion the excellent build up and suspense make this film worth watching, even if I don’t like the conclusion.

‘Below Zero’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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