El Niño is a young boy who lives in La Línea de la Concepción, close to Rock of Gibraltar, repairing and testing motorboats. After a night of party with his friend El Compi, they meet Halil, a young Muslim who has an uncle, Rachid, a drug dealer. Convinced by El Compi, El Niño accepts to be a drug mule, crossing it from África to Spain in a motorboat. In the opposite side of the law is Jesús, a veteran police officer who, helped by his partner Eva, is looking for El Inglés, an important drug dealer who operates in the Rock of Gibraltar.Written by
EL NINO is a flawed Spanish thriller from expert director Daniel Monzon (THE KOVAK BOX) who creates a stylish and fine-looking movie saddled with, unfortunately, a somewhat meandering and overlong plot. The narrative clocks in at around two hours and fifteen minutes in length, but at least forty-five minutes of that running time could readily have been excised in order to make a better paced, more exciting film.
The setting is Gibraltar, which looks exceptionally beautiful thanks to the cinematography, and the subject is the drug smuggling route to Morocco and back. There's a tableau of characters, the best of whom are the investigating drug agents led by Luis Tosar (SLEEP TIGHT), but the bad news is that they're off-screen for long stretches of time, leaving the film in the hands of a less experienced cast. Instead we follow youthful drug smuggler Nino and his attempts to make a fortune from the trade.
The problem the film has is that Nino just isn't a very interesting character and the guy playing him is a bit wooden. He's very self-centred and out for what he can get, and the actor just doesn't have the charisma to make him likable at all. A romantic sub-plot between him and a Moroccan girl is almost unwatchable, it's so dull. Monzon does shoot a handful of chase scenes typically involving boats and helicopters which are expertly done, so it's a shame he couldn't focus more on the thrills rather than the padding; if he'd done so then EL NINO was shaping up to be a minor classic of its genre. As it stands, it's just average.
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