The Zero Hour (2010)
The Zero Hour is a gritty, fast-paced heist film. Set in Caracas during the 24 hours of a controversial medical strike, the film tells the story of Parca (The Reaper) a feared hit man that is forced to take an elite hospital hostage in an attempt to save his wounded girlfriend. The police don't take long to arrive, and with them, a circus of media and onlookers. Parca soon becomes an unlikely hero, a "champion for the poor," until his stunt begins to divide the entire nation and violence begins to spread within the hospital and throughout the city, putting everything, including his girlfriend and her child, in dire jeopardy. A love story told in the midst of chaos, The Zero Hour is a timely and universal story about the mythic rise to power and the inevitable fall from grace.
- The film begins at night, at the Venezuelan slums. A young hitman explains that he is called La Parca (Zapata 666) because he always brings death. [La Parca is the representation of death in the Spanish world, usually dressed in a black robe and with a skeleton bodywhose hand holds a scythe] Images of a starving dog and a suffering lady. Parca, in a voiceover, says that today, it's his time, because death reaches everybody. Parca, whose real name is Tito, is carrying in his arms a heavily pregnant woman. Buitre - which means vulture - (Laureano Olivares) approaches Parca and the woman; she is bleeding and calls Parca Tito, so Buitre wonders what the hell is happening.
News excerpts and newspaper cut outs of a doctors' strike. "La hora cero (the zero hour)" means that from that time no medical services will be available to anybody, and it's thought that thousands will perish because of it.
We return to Parca's ordeal. Cura - which ironically means priest - (Mascioli Zapata) is talking to a girl through his mobile phone, making sexual remarks to her. Then, Parca, Buitre and Ladydi (Amanda Key) arrive, and they use Cura's moped. Cura also wonders at her calling him Tito. Ladydi leaves blood marks, and wild dogs arrive to lick it.
Margaret (Ana María Simón) is hosting her programme. She says that the strike takes place in a moment when a cholera strike is spreading through Venezuela. She gives way to Verónica Rojas (Marisa Román) a correspondant which is at the door of a hospital. Dr. Ricardo Cova (Erich Wildpret) prescribes "no diet pills and a milkshake" to a young girl who has fainted. A female doctor tells her to take side: he is with the strikers, or he is helping patients. When the female doctor leaves, after having complained that the hospital has run out of surgical thread, the mob gets more violent, so a clerk closes and locks the outer rail and main gate. Just afterwards Parca and his friends arrive with Ladydi. They shoot the clerk and the lock, which wakes up Cova.
Cova tries to help, in spite of not having the right surgical equipment, as it is a family practicioner establishment, not a full hospital with emergency equipment. Ladydi is in her 33rd week, and has been shot, as was Parca. Fetal heartbeat rhythm is irregular, but Cova can't operate there. As they don't want to wait for an ambulance which may never even leave its parking slot, Buitre calls for a cab, and forces the taxi driver (Froilán Rivero) to give them the keys to his car. As compensation, Buitre gives the taxi driver the moped's keys, and laughs it off saying it was stolen anyway.
They decide to make a run for the private hospital José Gregorio. Cova is taken on the backseat tending to Ladydi. The main song from the soap opera Cristal is heard "Mi vida eres tú", and Parca, who is driving, tells Buitre to stop fucking around with the radio. Cura is following them in his moped. Ladydi starts giving birth, but she is too weak to push, so Cova will have to try something. He asks for a knife, a lighter and somebody's help. Blood is everywhere. Parca jumps to the back seat and lets Buitre drive.
Parca will push the baby out, meanwhile Cova hits the knife with the lighter and cuts Ladydi, to give way to the baby. They arrive to a road blockade, and after driving on the wrong lane for a while, they arrive to the point where two police officers are. Buitre stops and insists to Parca that will be teammembers fifty-fifty in every business, or he won't jump the blockade. Parca agrees.
The baby (Kenyerly Robles) is born, and they are more in a hurry than ever. Cura shoots one of the cops and pushes the other one. There is blood absolutely everywhere, but Ladydi looks happy because the baby looks awake and healthy, in spite of the ordeal.
Cut to a clean, snow-white, quiet hospital. Mrs Isabel Mendoza (Haydee Faverola) is trying to read a magazine, but her companion Alejandra (Tatiana Mabo) is worried. Doña Isabel tells that the doctors will only inform the relatives of the patient.
The group arrives to the José Gregorio hopital. Cura drives inside the hospital and goes up the stairs in his moped. They interrupt some breast plastic surgery. They force the doctors to take care of Ladydi, who has lost a lot of blood, but the nurse Karla (Nana Ponceléon) says that today there are not any bags of blood, because of the strike - the people who had to send the supplies didn't send them. There are flashbacks of Tito as a child (Luis Alejandro Silva) who has bought ice-cream from stolen money, and he tells her that he will give her money. A teenaged Ladydi (Scarlett Jaimes) says that she wants to go to look for work in the rich areas. Cova tries to give information about the case and leave her with Dr Hernández (Antonio Cuevas), but the surgeon says he will need all the help available, so Cova has no option but staying, and makes a gesture of disappointment.
Buitre kills a security guard and takes everybody hostage. Chino (Anthony Rivero "El Gringo") is sent to the rooftop to get a grip "on things" and Buitre has taken all available weaponry.
Verónica tells Margaret that she got the scoop that something is happening at the hospital, and that nobody else knows from it. Jesús - or Jesus - (Albi De Abreu) was smoking some dope, so she tries to convince him of concentrating on her live broadcast, saying that this report will be their opportunity to work for the CNN in the USA.
The police, with Comisario Peña (Alejandro Furth) on the lead, arrive, as we hear their sirens on the outside.
Gobernador Gonzalo (Rolando Padilla) is talking on the phone. He wants the strike to end without casualties, but he's conscious that neither he nor the government has the money to give the pay rise which doctors are asking for. His wife Pilar Pérez (Beatriz Vásquez) is sowing a bikini for their dauther Laura, and she says that she would like his husband and Laura go to the beach on their own. Gonzalo is interrupted by the mobile phone. He switches on the TV and Verónica is there, broadcasting more.
Parca bandages his own arm, and while smoking, he remembers the first time he killed somebody, at the age of ten. Karla appears and says that the baby's eyes are yellow: the baby needs a blood transfusion immediately. Cova trashes some medical equipment out of sheer frustration.
A blond cop, Inspector Gringo (Steve Wilcox) says that the thugs are trying to save the life of a pregnant chick, and gives the name of Parca, who tattoos himself with the names of his victims. Verónica convinces Ponce to comb his hair and to talk to her, and also of letting her go through the police line. Verónica and Jesus approach the taxi on the entrance door, and they start to broadcast live. They panic and they get on the taxi. Buitre watches them on TV and puts on a shirt on his head and with the help of Cura, takes them inside the hospital, making them hostages as well.
Margaret says that violence is spreading because of the strike. Buitre says that the situation is becoming very hard. Parca listens to him, and watches Margaret creating more panic. He tells Jesus to grab his camera and broadcast live. Cova shows the baby and stuttering, he says that they need 6 units of blood and some saline solution. Parca appears live and says that rich go to private clinics while the poor die on the streets. The maid of Pilar looks at her with accusing eyes. He offers to release a hostage for each poor patient which gets into the José Gregorio. The governor complains that Peña let the reporters in, and says that he wants all that to finish quickly without casualties - a bit late for that - and doesn't like Peña's plan of sending police officers posing as sick people. In private, he asks Salguero (Yugui López) for an undisclosed favour.
Parca remembers how his mother was killed while having his handbag taken away. Ladydi offers him some consolation and wipes away his tears. They kissed each other. Buitre complains about Parca appearing on tv, but he says that Prince, Yunior (Lewis Martínez) and Cura will leave with the hostages, while Ladydi, the baby, Chino, Buitre and Parca will leave in a chopper. Buitre says that that is not a Hollywood film, and Parca acts all tough and tells him to do what he says. Parca tells Prince to tie everybody down with families. Isabel and her companion says that they are not relatives, but the young lady is punched because the thug will not believe her, as the two women came together to the hospital.
Cova doesn't want to keep doing the surgery; when Hernández reminds him of the Hippocrates Oath he tells of once, when he saved a thug's life, he robbed from him and shot him in the ciatic nerve a week afterwards, and the thug told him that each one did his job. The dead security guard is pulled into another room, as they need his clothes.
People want to get in because of Parca's words. They cheer Parca when the police won't let them in. Parca goes out to check on the situation and Verónica tells him that, with two more interviews, he could be running for President. Parca pushes her and saves himself and her of being shot by a sniper. Cura says that if they shoot them in spite of them offering to free the hostages, it's because they are not going to leave the hospital alive. Meanwhile, he's gonna feel Miss Venezuela (Vivian Ramos)'s tits - the girl who was going to have a boobs job done to her by Hernández.
The governor tells Peña that he's incompetent, but he says that he's never lost an officer, and so far, following the governor's order, he's got 5 officers wounded, probably one of them dead. Peña tells him to solve the strike if he wants to have no civilians wounded. Milagros Mendoza, Miss Venezuela has her photograph appearing on Margaret's programme, where her implants on the day of the strike are mentioned. Margaret por la mañana [Margaret in the Morning] extends its timelength and launches a special called Especial por la tarde.
Yunior is the first who leaves with some of the hostages, and threatens Alejandra to shut up about him being one of the thugs. The blood arrives. The governor wants to release Parca's previous crimes so that people won't think he's a Robin Hood of sorts. Salguelo tells him that Pilar is worried, and the Governor stops for a second saying that cancer is winning over her. Gonzalo shouts to Otto to end the strike, and to find the money wherever.
Buitre picks up the phone and a male's voice asking for Parca tells him that he can help them out. Chino says that there are 15 or 20 thugs inside, but that he didn't think his pay was enough to risk his life. The companion helps him out.
Ladydi's surgery goes on, with Cova a reluctant surgeon. Verónica has to grab the leg of the baby so that Cova can make an incision, take a vein out and put the blood through there. Cura and Karla praise him. Parca appears and wants to make him tend to the other patients. Cova says he's not afraid of him, but when Parca gives him his own gun, he won't take it, because they are different, Rodrigo Cova argues. But Parca tells him they are the same, because he knows all the shit which happens at the slums, and he knows that the doctor lets die all the thugs who arrive to his clinic.
Buitre tells Parca that it was the governor who offered to help them out, but Parca won't trust him. Cova's workmate arrives to criticize the government some more. Verónica wants to interview Cova, and he starts flirting with her. Meanwhile, Marisol Mendoza has woken up from aenesthetics without having her boob job performed on her. Cura approaches her and starts telling what happened in a quite funny moment. Cura starts singing to her.
Margaret is creating a public opinion favourable to Parca. Cova tends to an elderly woman, whom Verónica has disregarded. One of the patients called Doña Tita (Antonieta Colón) makes soup for everybody.
Yuleisy Sandoval (Begoña La Barrera) phones them from inside and talks about the situation. Parca tells Buitre to wait for the chopper, and tells him to lead if he wants.
Margaret phones Verónica and tells her that people from the top want them out of the air, and Jesus panicks when he feels that they both are fired. Hernández tells Parca that Ladydi needs one hour more before leaving, and the nurse tells Parca that Ladydi wouldn't want that to happen. Parca remembers her coming home with another boy and not taken the money he had taken from somebody - probably after killing that person.
Margaret now says that Parca killed a security guard, the bread-winner of his family, in the first clinic he visited. Verónica is furious because she won't be in the air anymore. In her frustration, she slips in a pool of blood, and gets her hands bloodied.
Outside, some doctors are checking on patients, but others are there to put pressure and have Cova freed. A representative - probably the Otto the governor was talking to before - says that the strike is over, and that all doctors who won't return to their posts will be arrested. This infuriates the doctors. A true mob appears. Peña wants to send the chopper. Buitre talks to the governor on his own.
Verónica tries to find another station which will air her, as she is afraid that she and Jesús are going to be killed if she is not useful anymore. Cova nods in silence and consoles her.
More hostages are released by Buitre. Prince (Robert "Splinter" García) is the second one to leave with the hostages; however, he hesitates, betraying himself, and he's shot mercilessly. Parca and Buitre see this, and they fight over the control of the situation. Margaret is bitching some more and calls Parca "animal", so he shoots the tv set.
Meanwhile, there are two police officers inside posing as patients which have introduced weapons within their casts. Peña comments that Ladydi was working at the governor's but that she was sacked half a year ago. Parca threatens Jesus and Verónica, but the alarm rings because the baby is dead. She was smothered with pillows. Parca realises that there are cops in, and gives orders of killing them. He punches Cova when he tries to convince him otherwise.
Buitre tells everybody to strip, including Veronica, so he does it himself. The police officers shoot Cura, but Hernandez refuses to leave. One of the cops wants to kill Ladydi, but Parca prevents it.
The governor remembers his love affair with Ladydi while he nervously waits for the all-clear call. Pili phones the governor, saying that the police questioned her about Ladydi, who got pregnant with the governor's child. When she told him, he fired her; in result she scratched his back, and that's how Pilar realised about the love affair. Now Pilar says she can't take it anymore.
Parca phones asking how many cops are inside. When he got no answer, he sent the cop Sandoval who was killed by the snipers. Parca asks for the chopper in 15 minutes or he will kill a hostage every minute. Cova is alone with Ladydi. He takes a gun and leaves.
Buitre thinks that Verónica was who betrayed them and that Jesús is a cop. Jesús is fired. They are about to enter because Peña was sacked. Peña enters the hospital. Cova points his gun to Parca and Buitre aims at the hostages. Peña tells him that the governor was the father of Ladydi's child and has a plan to save everybody. The army obeys the governor.
The police and the army aim at each other. Peña convinces Parca to let Miss Venezuela and her mother leave. Outside, Alejandra and Milagros kiss each other, and it looks like Isabel finally accepts the partner of her daughter.
Cova offers to go with Ladydi in the chopper to monitor her. Peña punches the governor. Ladydi wakes up. Peña has taken a bloodied towel with the baby's blood and now he can compare it with the governor's blood. Ladydi gets frantic when she learns that her child is dead. Flashback to panicky Ladydi, who shot Parca by mistake, thinking he was one of the Governor's men.
Buitre had betrayed Parca; for example, he was the one who gave the cops the weapons. Parca killed Buitre. Parca doesn't go with Cova and Ladydi in the chopper. He is shot on the rooftop while he remembers his love for Ladydi.
The governor panics some more when he sees that Buitre is dead. The mob hails Parca's corpse as its hero. Ladydi and Cova arrive somewhere with Doña Tita in tow.
Margaret bids goodbye, and says that, for the first time, Margaret por la mañana accompanied its audience for the afternoon and evening, and says that everybody can sleep tight and safely... for now.
---written by KrystelClaire