Days of Grace
Film Review by Kam Williams
Mexican Drug War Saga Features Kidnapping, Corruption and Violence
Days of Grace is the title of Arthur Ashe’s moving memoir about his remarkable tennis career as well as his stoic battle with AIDS after receiving a contaminated blood transfusion. By contrast, Days of Grace, the movie, is a gruesome gansta’ saga set in Mexico City.
The intricately-plotted crime thriller takes place in 2002, 2006 and 2010 during the weeks when the World Cup is being played. Apparently, that’s a great time to break the law, since both citizens and the police are so focused on the games that they unwittingly lower their guard.
The film is constructed as a trio of discrete storylines, although all paint Mexico as a godforsaken environ run by mobsters and crooked cops. Because they unfold simultaneously instead of chronologically, it’s a little difficult to keep the casts of characters straight, especially if you don’t speak Spanish and need to read the subtitles.
One thread revolves around the frustrations encountered by a socialite (Dolores Heredia) desperate to free her husband (Juan Carlos Remolina) who’s been abducted for a $2 million ransom. Apparently there’s a lot of that going around south of the border.
Trouble is the detectives handling the case are so corrupt she’s even more afraid of them than the kidnappers. A second thread focuses on another kidnapped businessman’s (Carlos Bardem) ordeal while the third chronicles the friendship forged between an honest cop (Tenoch Huerta) and the at-risk 9 year-old (Jose Alberto Solorzano) he’s mentoring with tough love.
Written and directed by Everardo Valerio Gout, Days of Grace features gratuitous violence, graphic vivisection and slo-mo displays of senseless slaughter reminiscent of such masters of the genre as John Woo and Sam Peckinpah. If lingering looks at torture gets your juices going, this indulgence of bloodlust is probably right up your alley.
The best Mexican splatterfest since Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.
Excellent (4 stars)
In Spanish and English with subtitles
Running time: 121 minutes
Distributor: Cinema Libre Studio