The new film by Jaume Balagueró moves between the classic schemes of robbery cinema and the Hollywood spectacle.
Way Down is one of those films that when you start watching you already know how it will end, its scheme has been repeated assiduously since in 1973 George Roy Hill laid the foundations of the genre with his extraordinary The Coup . With different evolutions we have already seen that story of an impossible robbery in which first you have to gather a group of specialists of a diverse nature, then the perfect plan is complicated by an indeterminate number of unforeseen events and at the end, after some script twist and certain moments of tension, the criminals, who are usually the good guys, take the spoils. Reservoir Dogs (1992), Usual Suspects (1995), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) or Hidden Plan(2006) succeeded because they knew how to add new ingredients to that master recipe or they got off track in the middle of the trip. Way Down does not do it, it sticks to the canon and that takes away a certain freshness and leaves it several steps below all the previous ones.
The story centers on the theft of the diary of the legendary corsair Drake, which by chance of fate is kept in the security chamber of the Bank of Spain, the most impregnable place in the world and whose security measures make it impossible not even to approach it. Liam Cunningham (Davos in Game of Thrones) is a treasure retriever who sees how Spain snatches from him in court what it has taken him so long to find. With the covert help of His Majesty’s government and together with a group of robbers, he leads a plan to recover the notebook. The story is framed within the time frame of the World Cup in South Africa, the development of which is of paramount importance in the outcome.
Freddie Highmore , known in Spain for his role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bates Motel and The Good Doctor , is the lead actor and one of the producers of the film. The young English talent once again plays the role of an introverted genius capable of solving any problem that arises. He is a character made to measure and his weight on the film outshines, although I’m not sure if this is for the better, that of the rest of the teammates. Veteran team leader Liam Cunningham builds the most believable character of all. Moving well between the morality of the robbery, his personal values, and the justice of the mission. On the Spanish side, both José Coronado and Luis Tosar, two of the greatest talents in our cinema are underutilized. The first because he is pigeonholed into a role, that of the Bank’s security chief, which does not present any edge. A Manichean figure that is exaggerated is not very credible. As for Tosar, in his role as an achiever, he is wasted in a character more suited to Javier Cámara than to the imposing presence of Tosar, who nevertheless achieves a remarkable performance. The rest of the cast is made up of Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, recovered for the cinema, Sam Riley, Axel Stein, Famke Janssen, Daniel Holguín and a funny Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, in the role of Governor of the Bank of Spain. In general, the Spanish team is imposed on the outsiders, although not by as much difference as the line-up assumed.
Good action scenes
Technically, the film has outstanding moments, especially the part of the strong camera assault, that is where Balagueró is more faithful to himself, managing to raise the tension of the spectator. But the story does not end up being credible from the first moment and certain holes in the script do not help to improve that general impression.
Of all the footage, the most interesting episodes are confined to action scenes, while the presentations of the characters and their psychological portraits are made, as inconsequential, too long. The chemistry between the team is not quite working as it should.
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As a curiosity, it is filmed in both languages ??(Spanish and English) and everything flows naturally, it is something that series like Narcos have accustomed to the Spanish public and that gives greater credibility and allows a better appreciation of the work of foreign actors. The soundtrack is by Arnau Bataller and includes songs from groups as different as Los Ronaldos, AC / DC or the Sex Pistols.
Way Down is conceived as an American blockbuster and as such it works, two hours of light entertainment without major pretensions. Film adventures for all ages , without violence despite the robbery and where the principal tests the ingenuity of its actors and the audience challenging them to overcome impossible challenges.
Some final surprise and Iniesta’s goal as part of the escape plan give a certain colorful touch to a film that is far from being the best of many of its participants, including Balagueró himself, but that works as a consumer product. Perhaps his Achilles heel is that he has been too politically correct about everything. Recently we have La Casa de Papel, with a plot and a location with many similarities, but that works like clockwork (first season) because its characters move in a world where the border between good and evil is not clearly defined and that also has no qualms about exceeding certain limits.