With the Hungry Eye press pass for BFI London Film Festival firmly in hand, Editor at Large Jake Cunningham headed into the city to deliver the very first Hungry Eye review.
‘El Nino’ follows three young Spanish men as they start smuggling drugs between Africa and Spain using Jet Skis and Speedboats, and Jesus, a police officer investigating a drug dealer operating out of Gibraltar.
‘El Nino’ seems to have placed itself on that fine line of film making between Miami Vice and daytime perfume adverts. For every whip smart quip between buddy cops there’s an inherently awful sex scene on a beach, to the what sounds like the background music of a Spanish hotel’s website slideshow. This is a problem throughout ‘El Nino’, rather than be middle of the road, it’s either speeding down the right hand lane or chugging along in the hard shoulder. There are some truly original chase sequences involving speedboats and helicopters that produce some heart-just-below-tonsils moments, but then there’s an unbelievable and extremely forced love story. For every great police drama moment, there’s a TV movie melodrama to follow.
Petty smuggler and loveable, titular villain El Nino is played by Jesus Castro, who seems to have taken inspiration from Derek Zoolander for his incredible Magnum (or was it LeTigre, Ferrari?) level of pouting and staring; but also Douglas Boothe’s performance as Pip in the BBC’s 2012 adaptation of ‘Great Expectations’. In that we think he’s been carved out of marble, he thinks he’s been carved out of a marble; and his performance is about as realistic as if it were being performed, with all the animation and heart, of a piece of marble
It may then seem like relief when we transport from our jet ski riding, beach love making, persona-less antagonist to our cop on the ground. But ‘El Nino’ doesn’t switch between it’s two sides of the law often enough, this means that we spend so much time with either the cops or the robbers that we’ve forgotten what the other one was actually doing, and how it effects both sides. The film, and as a result the audience, become muddled.
This game of cat and mouse seems to be drowning in the Gibraltar Strait. El Nino, his friends, their rivals, the cops, the paid off cops and seemingly anyone else keeps travelling across anonymous bodies of water doing anonymous things and sadly everyone in the film eventually just becomes anonymous. For a film that spends so much time set on water, it really is all at sea.
Watch this space as we grow this section of the Hungry Eye website, with more film and crucially, a variety of product reviews.
Hungry Eye BFI London Film Festival Reviews: EL NINO