Unit 7 invades Tribeca
by Boyd van Hoeij
30/04/2012 - Already a solid hit back home, where it was released in early April, the Spanish police thriller Unit 7 [trailer] hit US shores last week when it screened in New York as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.
Directed by filmmaker Alberto Rodriguez (7 Virgins, After [trailer], The Suit), the film was part of the Narrative Competition in Tribeca, a clear indication that new artistic director Frédéric Boyer (see interview) and his team are putting their weight not only behind esoteric arthouse fare but also solid genre films from the four corners of the globe.
Unit 7 is set in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Seville, in the time leading up to the Universal Exposition that was scheduled to open in the southern Spanish city in April 1992.
It is the job of the plain-clothes officers of the titular unit to clean up their district that is rife with crime, prostitution and other assorted offences that wouldn’t help the reputation of the city on the world stage.
The focus is on ambitious young rookie Angel (Mario Casas) and his more experienced colleague, Rafael (Antonio de la Torre), who is not only very devout but also very vicious and who loves to beat up the scum of the earth he’s in touch with for a living and then send them running in their underwear after burning their clothes.
Also on the team are Mateo (Joaquin Nunez) and Miguel (José Manuel Poga), though Rodriguez, who co-wrote the film with regular collaborator Rafael Cobos, seems most interest in the opposing forces of Angel and Rafael.
What elevates the material is that Rodriguez keeps things real at all times, with the various action scenes, fights and the like all keyed to a gritty kind of realism that is perhaps not the greatest ingredient for top-shelf action films but ensures that the characters and the risks they take always feel real.
The Warner Bros. Spain release was produced by Atipica Films, La Zanfona Producciones and Sacromonte Films, with backing from TVE, AXN, Canal Plus España and Canal Sur. International sales are handled by Barcelona-based Film Factory Entertainment and should interest genre aficionados.