Review by Sean Boelman
Set during the time of the Argentine Corralito and the resultant economic turmoil faced by the country, Sebastián Borensztein’s thriller Heroic Losers is a heist movie boosted by a quality cast. And despite a few core misconceptions that prevent it from having the emotional impact that it should, it manages to be a mostly entertaining watch.
The film tells the story of a group of small-town neighbors who get together in the hopes of starting a small business to revitalize the local economy, only for the banks to crash, causing them to lose their money to a corrupt lawyer and sending them on a plot to steal it. The historical context in which the movie is placed helps a lot in making it feel more unique, but unfortunately, it falls back on genre tropes a bit too often.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the film is that it is a bit too long. The first thirty minutes, which introduce the characters and set up the premise, are compelling, but when the heist element begins to kick in, it starts to feel a lot more conventional. The heist itself is exciting, but far too much time is spent on the planning stage.
Much of the movie is reliant on the audience buying into the sense of community that is central to the story, and thankfully, Borensztein and co-writer Eduardo Sacheri are able to build that dynamic quite well. That said, some of the members of the group certainly could have used more development on an individual level.
The phenomenal actors that Borensztein assembled to make up his cast are also a significant contributor to this film’s effectiveness. Ricardo Darín gives a nuanced and subtle performance in the lead role, bringing a lot of humility to a character that easily could have been a cocky hero. Andrés Parra offers an excellent over-the-top foil as the antagonist.
That said, there is a fundamental conceit to the movie that doesn’t exactly work, and that is that the antagonist is a criminal. Sure, what he’s doing is immoral and selfish, but not necessarily illegal. As a result, the film isn’t entirely successful in its bid to make these characters seem truly heroic, them coming across as more of a Robin Hood-like presence.
Borensztein does bring a lot of style to the movie, the action sequences being particularly great, but it would have benefitted from being a bit more tonally consistent. At times, the film has an irreverent and campy feel to it, but in others, it seems to want to be a hard-hitting drama, creating some serious tonal whiplash.
Heroic Losers is a lot of fun, and it’s certainly well-made, but it isn’t as important as it seems to want to be. Still, the movie is worth a watch for the wealth of phenomenal performances it contains alone.
Heroic Losers screens at the Enzian Theater as part of the Florida Film Festival on August 13 at 3:15pm. The Florida Film Festival runs August 7-20 in Orlando, FL.