Kino Lorber // 2012 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // September 6th, 2013
"We're Unit 7! Nobody fucking sells here!"
In the early scenes of Unit 7, cops are following a bad guy down a narrow street in 1987 Sevilla. Their car is pelted from the windows above, and they're sworn at by the people they've sworn to protect. Soon, as you'd expect from an action flick, they're in hot pursuit of bad guys. After rookie Angel (Mario Casas, Summer Rain) is held at knifepoint by a thug, the villain is dangled from a rooftop. The scene immediately encapsulates a world in which everyone's a little rotten, and cops could easily become worse.
The world of Unit 7 (Grupo 7 in Spanish) is revealed through Angel's eyes as he slowly becomes violent and corrupt. At the outset, Angel is bluffing when he menaces a suspect with a hammer -- a mercy that he points out is unseen in his colleagues. However, he's the one who comes up with the idea of using drugs from a raid to encourage junkies to snitch.
Unit 7 is set against a backdrop of the then-upcoming Expo 92, the Sevilla World's Fair. Thus, over years, Unit 7 is praised by the powers that be, even as its members sink into violence.
Unit 7 delivers enough action to keep viewers satisfied for a rental -- there's only one brief set piece car chase, but plenty of foot chases and fighting. At the same time, it tells a story of sinking morality. Angel's a good guy -- more or less -- early on, but in a year or two, he'll be ready to really smash a suspect's teeth in. As he becomes more violent, Sevilla's populace is sending him a message; his dog is set on fire as he plays with his son, and graffiti around the city threatens his life.
Mario Casas plays Angel with a hint of uncertainty; you can see his nervousness as he stands in the center of an apartment block, shooting his gun into the air to get everyone's attention and warn them against dealing drugs. At the same time, he's determined; when a band of citizens forces the cops to strip down to their underwear and crawl away (echoing a humiliation the cops regularly inflict on junkies), Angel's the one who wants to go back and take the crowd on.
The world of Unit 7 is a nasty one, with profanity and violence filling the movie.
The film's look is gritty, emphasizing the rundown and sometimes abandoned buildings of Sevilla, and it's captured well on the DVD. The music pounds a little too much, but comes across reasonably well.
The only extras are a trailer and a stills gallery, so there's nothing to put Unit 7 into perspective, but I suspect Sevilla residents would find the themes relevant, but the particulars a little exaggerated.
I watched the movie in its original Spanish with subtitles, but there's an English-dubbed version. I sampled it; it's an obvious dub, but the voices aren't bad, and the dialogue matches the subtitles closely.
Director Alberto Rodríguez (7 Virgins) injects some intellectual fodder into a police action drama. It's still a gritty thrill ride, but his attention to history and morals makes it one you'll want to rent.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
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