Based on actual events, two journalists investigate the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberacion (GAL), Spain's government-funded hit squad who engaged in a conflict with the Basque terrorist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) in the mid-1980s.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Manuel Mallo
...
...
Paco Ariza
...
Soledad Muñoz
Mercè Llorens ...
Gracia
...
Pablo Codina
Ricard Borràs ...
Juez Lachambre
Manuel Galiana ...
Alberto de Celis
Tomás del Estal ...
Mar Regueras ...
Fiscal Cristina Mateos
Bernard Le Coq ...
Presidente
Jordi Rebellón ...
Carlos Peinado
...
Ministro del Interior
Pedro Mari Sánchez ...
Juez Serna
Blanca Marsillach ...
Moderadora debate
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Storyline

Based on actual events, two journalists investigate the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberacion (GAL), Spain's government-funded hit squad who engaged in a conflict with the Basque terrorist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) in the mid-1980s.

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basque | See All (1) »

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Drama | Thriller

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Release Date:

3 November 2006 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Gal - Um Crime de Estado  »

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Disappointing and propagandistic
4 November 2006 | by (Kent & Madrid) – See all my reviews

Natalia Verbeke gives a good performance, showing a driven professional who goes after the truth despite sometimes experiencing personal fear. She has two nice showcase moments in the film where she proves she really got into her character's skin (in the cafeteria before Ariza's deposition and at the paper after a threatening call is received). Jordi Molla, on the other hand, underacts in light of the character he is playing. A military man in such a position would certainly show a great deal more arrogance and violent character, and we all know Molla is capable of showing it after his performance in BLOW. Ana Alvarez is memorable as the submissive girlfriend, but none of the rest of the cast really stand out. There isn't any real character development to make the audience sympathise with any of the main characters beyond mentions in passing that one of the journalists is divorced and the other about to get married.

The real problem with this film; however, is that the actors aren't really given much to work with. The basis of the story is explained in a manner approaching docudrama but without sufficient detail to really justify such stilted plot development. The scenes of GAL members doing horrible acts to the tune of American rock music is a teeny bit surreal as clearly it is meant to show GAL was working non-stop committing crimes of all sorts, but the movie doesn't get into the nitty gritty of what they actually did except to show one car bomb and one botched kidnapping. The musical choice makes me wonder if the person who did the soundtrack is at all aware of the music scene in Spain in the 80's and what the characters would likely have been listening to. In any case, the use of flashback at certain parts of the film is supported by the "interview" technique but doesn't add anything in the way of suspense. Rather it gives the film a sloppy and disjointed feel.

All in all, the film views like a propaganda film the likes of those shown to troops before wars to get them convinced of how they should feel without explaining too much lest they think for themselves. Frankly, the story this movie covers is a very important one in the history of a country that went from the fascist rule of a dictatorship to democracy without condemning the hierarchy of the previous government for their abuses. Clearly that caused problems in the transition to democracy and arguably those problems are still present today. There are so many historical, political and social issues involved that they cannot easily be treated in 111 minutes. However; that is no excuse for producing a film lacking in focus and development... unless the objective is solely to get the audience worked up.

Perhaps a remake will do a better job. Perhaps a subsequent treatment will be worth watching. Aside from Natalia Verbeke's 5 minutes, this one sure is not.


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