It is not often that we get an action film free from cheesy dialogue and a recycled story about escaping cartels and organized crime. Many action flicks, especially straight-to-streaming ones, try to use the action sequences as the selling point for their marketing with the basic building blocks of story and character being reduced to merely ancillary elements. Even so, the action in most of these features is nothing new, just car chase sequences seemingly made up of the same three shots over and over again. Thankfully, Netflix’s international film ‘Centauro’ avoids falling into this category for the most part.
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Based on the novel by Guillaume Lemans, the Spanish film is directed by Daniel Calparsoro and stars Alex Monner as Rafa, a professional speed bike racer who finds himself doing runs for a cartel that his son’s mother has gotten into some trouble with. The film also stars Begona Vargas as Rafa’s ex, Natalia, Edgar Vittorino as the cartel’s leader, Carlos, and Dollar Selmouni as Rafa’s frequent acquaintance, Cortes. Overall, while the film is not without a few flaws and does have a couple of moments where it strays into generic action movie territory, ‘Centauro’ is a well-made and suitably crafted story that puts enough care into its narrative and characters to make the audience interested in what is transpiring.
‘Centauro’ – A Simple Yet Interesting Story
As mentioned above, the story follows a professional speed bike racer who soon finds himself working as a courier for a drug cartel in order to get his son’s mom out of trouble with them. The story isn’t anything very intricate or complex, that’s why it works. The film realizes it doesn’t need to weave multiple subplots throughout the story. Its simple and concise story liberates it from the danger of large info-dumping scenes and exposition-heavy dialogue. All of this does not mean, however, that the film puts its narrative and characters in the back seat (no pun intended) to focus on overindulgent action sequences. It does no such thing.
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The story is complemented by believable characters and realistic dialogue. There is a strong sense of familiarity in the conversations taking place. The viewer can buy into the idea that these characters sound like people we encounter in our daily lives. Despite the fact that we’ve seen certain story elements in other movies multiple times before (two people who are no longer together sharing custody of a child), the crisp nature of the dialogue provides enough plausibility to keep the audience interested. Carlos, being the cartel leader and the primary antagonist of the film, effectively established his presence to the audience as a character that should be feared and respected by those who work for him. A major reason for this is Vittorino’s superb acting skills. Additionally, given that this is an action film, it only made sense for all the events to take place at a fast pace. In many ways, the film accomplishes this, clocking in with a roughly ninety-minute runtime. The action sequences themselves are also thrilling enough to keep the audience engaged and thankfully do not feel as if the same handful of shots are reused multiple times in the same scene.
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Where the Film Could Have Slowed Down
While the film can definitely be appreciated for keeping a quick pace and for not being too long, there are some areas where the story could have benefitted from slowing down and juicing out certain scenes a bit more. Ironically, these were mostly the scenes involving Rafa’s career as a pro speed biker. To some length, the film does spend some time on these scenes and how much Rafa’s other job with the cartel is affecting his real career, but perhaps not as much as it could. Similarly, Rafa’s involvement with the cartel could have been hammered home in terms of how it affects other aspects of his life. Stakes and consequences overall could have been demonstrated a bit more frequently and powerfully than they were.
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There were also some plot points that felt resolved a bit too easily. Without going into spoilers, this is especially the case towards the ending. These scenes also might have greatly benefited from being one or two lines of dialogue longer. On the other hand, however, any viewer would probably prefer a scene (or a whole movie in general) being too short rather than feeling as if they do not end. So in that respect, this issue isn’t exactly the worst sin in filmmaking.
Overall, for a straight-to-streaming action film, ‘Centauro’ is a simple, suitably crafted, and enjoyable thrill ride. This is especially significant given that while most of the service’s mainstream shows are exceptional, Netflix’s original film catalog is lackluster for the most part. Their foreign films are a bit of a different story. Most titles among Netflix’s international film catalog are of superb quality and exceed that of most movies on their domestic lists. ‘Centauro’ qualifies as one of those titles that have earned a spot in the international catalog. It may not be a film that many viewers will want to watch over and over again. It may not even be a movie that audiences will remember all that much about days after watching it. But it will certainly be a quick, entertaining, and captivating watch for viewers, nonetheless.
Directed by Daniel Calparsoro | Written by Yann Gozlan, Jeremie Guez | Based on the novel by Guillaume Lemans | Produced by Gaeil Nouaille, Laurent Baudens, Adria Mones
Starring: Alex Monner, Begona Vargas, Edgar Vittorino, Dollar Selmouni, Carlos Bardem
By Nader Chamas
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.