Zapa is a locksmith in a quiet and little town lost somewhere in the province of Buenos Aires. The work is quite slow, and hours seem to pass slowly. Polaco, the owner of the shop, sends him on a job that consists of opening a safe at an office. The next day, Zapa is imprisoned for being responsible of robbing the place. Ismael, his uncle, a retired policeman, bails him out and sends him to Buenos Aires. Zapa becomes an aspiring officer in the Buenos Aires Police. He gets to his new home city, takes the instructional course, works at a precinct, has a love affair with a teacher and starts to see his life turn into a strange fiction. Written by
Not as strong as it could have been but still an interesting indictment on police corruption
Mendoza (Zapa) is a simple locksmith's assistant who does a job for his boss by helping a couple of guys open their safe' he doesn't ask why they need him to crack it and they don't tell him. However he is picked up for the job within a few days and only gets released because his nephew is the chief of police. Forced to leave town in exchange for release he heads to Buenos Aries and takes up training with the police force there thanks to an "in" from his uncle. However Zapa soon realises that this will not be an easy job compared to his last one and indeed may expose him to more wrongdoing than his safecracking assignments.
It must be said that this film surprised me by how slow sections of it appeared to be and how I was left totally uninterested by some parts of it something, considering the subject, I never expected. The film is not so much about Zapa as a person as it is about the corruption of the police (well, authorities generally) in Argentina and how even "good" people cannot cope to overcome something when they are surrounded by it. In this regard it could have been a fascinating look at corruption told within a thriller format where the main character is interesting because we see him fall morally and get to see the conflict he goes through as a result. Sadly the film doesn't really manage to do a great of this to any great extent. This is not to say that it is valueless, because it is not without positive aspects and it is interesting as an allegory of how corruption corrupts but it just felt that it could have been better in almost every area if it just was a bit better.
The character of Zapa does change during the film but I never really felt for the guy or got to grips with who he was the change was the all and his character was less important. Likewise the corruption played out is not that gripping and I would have liked to see it delivered as more of an eye-opener as opposed to just being general wallpaper (although I suppose the corruption is so normal that this delivery is part of the film's point). I know that to some degree I am expecting this film to be something it wasn't but it is hard to watch it without seeing weaknesses that could have been strengthened by a bit more development or tightening in key areas. The cast is OK and Roman does well enough to keep the film going but I did wonder if he understood his character any better than I did. The supporting cast are all effective and provide as much support as is required although I would have liked to have seen some stronger characters in there.
Overall this is an interesting film that acts as an indictment on police corruption within Argentina and perhaps, bearing in mind the state of that country, a judgement on authority full stop. The narrative could have been tighter, the characters could have been realer and more engaging and the script been better but, despite these flaws, it is still worth a watch for what it does do.
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