This is a movie review of Cien Años de Perdón (To Steal from a Thief).
On the surface, Daniel Calpasoro’s Cien Años de Perdón is a thriller film about a bank heist. Scratch the surface a little and one finds that it is about rampant corruption in the government and the great lengths the powerful people involved in it do to cover up their transgressions.
El Uruguayo (Rodrigo de la Serna) leads a group of thieves in robbing a bank in Valencia. With high-powered arms, transparent masks covering their faces and explosives strapped to their upper body, they easily overpower the security guard, other bank personnel and early morning clients without inflicting irreparable damage to the hostages.
The thieves seem in control right from the get go. Each one knows what to do and when to do it, from opening the safety deposit boxes to opening a hole on the floor for their escape. They even have the gall to let the hostages use their phones for 90 seconds to call whomever they want. Of course, at least one of those calls lead to contacting the police authorities and in a blink of an eye patrol cars arrive at the doorsteps of the bank. The robbers do not even bat an eyelash and demand police negotiator José Luis Domingo (Luis Callejo) to deliver them food.
Shit hits the fan only when El Gallego (Luis Tosar) realizes that Mother Nature literally rains on their parade. The underground tunnel that is supposed to be their escape route is flooded and the current is too strong for them to maneuver in it. This is where “el puto plan B” (the fucking plan B) comes into play. “El puto plan B” is safety deposit box 314, which belongs to Gonzalo Soriano, a former government official who is now comatose. It contains controversial dossier that can end the careers of many influential people, including the president.
The president’s chief of Cabinet, Ferrán (Raúl Arévalo), works behind the scene to ensure that the contents of safety deposit box 314 do not see the light of day. In order to do so, the trusted and discreet Colonel Mellizo (José Coronado) replaces Domingo as the chief negotiator.
Cien Años de Perdón is reminiscent of Denzel Washington and Clive Owen’s Inside Man. Both involve a bank heist, a Pandora’s box and back-and-forth conversations between the thieves and the negotiators. Just like in Inside Man, Cien Años de Perdón has generous, relatively intelligent and relatively non-violent robbers, which makes them and their actions somewhat forgivable. Also, as mentioned earlier, the supposedly good guys or the government officials are not inherently good. Watching them scramble to save their asses is entertaining.
Although Cien Años de Perdón does not deviate much from Inside Man in terms of plot, Cien Años de Perdón boasts of great acting and chemistry from its cast. This is the first time I have seen a movie of de la Serna and he does not disappoint. His El Uruguayo is bossy, menacing, loud and funny at the right moments. For some reason, he reminds me of Tobey Maguire. Tosar is magnificent as usual. He is at his best when his eyes bulge, his jaw clenches and the veins in his arms protrude. All of his body acts! And his voice, oh la la. Arévalo, even in tailored suits, still gives me the creeps. His stares are the stuff nightmares are made of (and are the main reason why I have not finished Girasoles Ciegos until now). The scene inside the car, which involves de la Serna, Tosar and Arévalo, is witty and electrifying. Kudos to them for making it so compelling, like a vídeo de cinco estrellas (5-star video).
It is a nice surprise to see the lovely Coronado in the film. It took me a while to realize he was Colonel Mellizo. Those eyeglasses suit him perfectly. 🙂 I am fangirling.
If there is one thing that is consistent about Cien Años de Perdón aside from good acting, it is the presence of rain (and somber colors). The OC in me appreciates details like this. There is rain or raindrops everywhere, in the streets, on the windshield, on the window of the bank and of the hospital, when there is supposedly rain. So it is a delight to finally see a ray of sunshine at the end. Yes, I know the rain has literal and figurative meanings, so the sunshine after the rain has a two-fold meaning, too.
- El Uruguayo likes to say, “La concha de tu madre” among other things.
- Raúl Arévalo’s stares haunt me, just like Lilia Cuntapay’s face did when I was younger. OMG.
- What role can Luis Tosar not give justice to? He is so damn good!