Review by Sean Boelman
Most notable for their rom-coms targeting the Latino moviegoing audience, Spanish-language distributor Pantelion’s latest release, En Brazos de un Asesino, is an attempt to get into the modest-budget erotic thriller market. Based on J. A. Redmerski’s In the Company of Killers series, this film’s lazy action and bland attempts at steaminess ultimately go nowhere.
The movie follows a smooth-talking assassin when he finds his values and livelihood challenged after a seductive woman who had been abducted by one of his bosses, a powerful drug lord, stows away in his vehicle in the hopes of an escape. Although some leniency can be granted due to the film’s nature as an adaptation, the story is frustratingly generic, every single beat being so telegraphed that the movie almost becomes laughable.
The sheer amount of tropes that are included in this script is baffling, to the point that, with a less straight-faced tone, this could have passed as a deconstruction of the genre. Instead, what audiences get is an hour and forty-five minutes of campy and over-the-top melodrama with some low-quality action thrown in every once in a while. Admittedly, it can be pretty entertaining at times, but not on purpose.
Perhaps the single biggest issue with this film is that viewers will not care about any of the characters because they are so underdeveloped. Even the conventional “mysteriously sexy” antihero who lends himself to the title is unable to get much of an emotional impact out of the audience.
Where this becomes a significant problem is the romantic storyline that forms between the killer and his captive. In this portion of the story, it is obvious that the filmmakers were hoping to be able to adapt more of the stories from the book series, as the relationship feels obligatory and underexplored. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many would-be franchise-starters, this movie simply isn’t good enough to make a viewer care enough to revisit this world.
That isn’t to say that there is no chemistry to be found on screen, the filmmakers just don’t use it. William Levy and Alicia Sanz, the two leads of the movie, both have a solid on-screen presence, but the interactions that their characters have together don’t give them enough room to shine. Levy, who co-wrote the film, is particularly charming, but even he can’t infuse life into the script.
On a technical level, the movie is pretty cheesy. A majority of the film is shot in darkness and shadow, seemingly an attempt to give the story a dark and brooding feel. However, when everything that is happening on screen is so over-the-top and ridiculous, it becomes hard to buy into the darkness of the movie.
Despite the efforts of all involved, En Brazos de un Asesino is a massive disappointment. Only the most easily satisfied viewers who have no familiarity with the genre or its tropes will enjoy this straightforward and bland erotic thriller.
En Brazos de un Asesino is now playing in theaters.
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