And now I'm back at home again. Freelance DVD reviewers and inveterate readers know the score, the territory. Direct-to-video, homes. I bust the gangsta talk, and you readers supply the accent, because we're delving into the subset of DTV DVD that involves Hispanic gangsters, this time coming with the stylish, assured, and (sadly) ultimately un-watchable 7 Kilos. Why so harsh, you ask? Wait and see, bro, wait and see.
7 Kilos commences in grand fashion with some post-reservoir dogs gangster stuff involving the titular load and 2.5 million. Trouble is hothead Danny gets his skinny tie all in a bunch, popping caps in some asses that, by association, don't deserve them. In a sad coincidence, his girlfriend Camilla ends up with the loot and the weight and with nothing to do but run for the border. That's where pseudo-outlaw Cane comes in, and viewers with sensitive constitutions bow out.
It's not that 7 Kilos is rough, cheap, or unskilled as a feature. It starts out strong with nice tough-guy bravado, bullets and blood. A dank and dark atmosphere and performances seemingly fueled by the meth referred to in the title make little genre film fans hearts flutter. There's obvious skill behind the camera, and mostly on all sides. But some things go horribly wrong. Firstly, there's a tragic misreading of Sid Field's Guide To Screenwriting.
7 Kilos wants fervently to hit all the marks that a room full of Hollywood stupes think are necessary, but for some weird reason drags things out. After the well-oiled beginning we realize we've waited about 25 minutes for some principal characters to be doled out. After that, signposts are knocked down at a lazy pace and, just when we're getting completely fed-up (for another reason) the movie abruptly ends. Word to the mother of screenplays; if you want to pander, at least keep up the pace.
No mistake, there is enough good in 7 Kilos to give another chance to Director Pablo Veliz et (mostly) al, chiefly the way the reversal of expectations is handled. That is, your heroes are not who you think they are, or who they ought to be, and that's nice. The very best thing that can be said is that the right person wins in the end. You'll have to watch to find out who that is.
But mostly, you'll want to shove a mesquite skewer through the ears of our heroine, Camillla, played by Brenda Estrella Rojas, who is, for all intents and purposes, the Hispanic Fran Drescher. There's no way you can get behind the tribulations of this woman, so annoying, who starts out kind of clever, but turns into the sort of whining harridan who might ask how you 'start' a horse, not that she does, it's just that my brain is working hard to erase all memories of her performance. And I apologize to everyone for my harsh tone, but that's what spending 90 minutes with Camilla has done to me. Don't let it happen to you.
7 Kilos is presented in a sharp 16 x 9 widescreen version that seems (unless it's my lack of an HDMI cable and 1080p upconverting DVD player) unable to keep up with itself at times. That, or it could be stylistic flourishes, but in scenes where people are riding through arroyos, the trees fair seemed to pulsate with digital weirdness. Otherwise, it looks dang good. Great color balance and saturation, and aside from the bumpin' trees and some shakin' picket fences, quite sharp.
7 Kilos has the Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound as a plus factor, and you can tell. The songs included that weren't intrusive and annoying sound great and the soundtrack pieces, when not horrific, like the standard comedic staccato strings bit, (which may very well earn every movie I review that includes it an automatic Skip It - you know what I'm talking about, it's insulting to everyone) also sound good. There's also some nice ambient placement, like in the early club scenes, that let you know people cared about this release.
Aside from two trailers for other Hispanic Gangster themed releases, one of which had music that reminded me of Cypress Hill at its hardcore best, there are no extras. However, English Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound and an equivalent Spanish 5.1 audio track are listed as extras, as are Spanish subtitles.
If I may rely on a critic's saw that is so old it predates George Burns, I really wanted to like 7 Kilos. The kick-ass opener, followed by the so-assured late credits sequence, speaks of great things. But after that we're slowly doled out numerous clichés, even with the old reversal-of-expectations, and are given a 'protagonist' so unlikable as to make this reviewer fast-forward through the sex scene. Finally, the movie stops on a dime, despite never having built up to any sort of climax. 7 Kilos is a genre effort by talented folks that makes enough serious missteps to earn the dreaded Skip It.
- Kurt Dahlke
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