Starring: Demián Bichir, Chino Darían, Mónica Antonópulos
Director: Natalia Meta
Running Time: 92 mins
Death In Buenos Aires (Muerte en Buenos Aires) is an Argentinian film about the police investigation that unfolds after the murder of a high-rolling figure in the city, and the pressures from all sides on the detectives to keep the embarrassing nature of his death under wraps.
While it’s far from the weakest crime thriller you’ll ever see, Death In Buenos Aires is a decidedly poor cop drama, lacking the ingenuity in its core twists and turns to make for any sort of gripping viewing. It may have the odd bit of charisma in its 80s setting, but the film is in general a disappointing watch, never working in the exciting or even plainly engaging way it’s aiming to.
There isn’t all that much about Death In Buenos Aires that proves particularly memorable or outstanding, but to start off briefly on a positive note, there are a few stylistic elements of the film that do stand out with a little charisma and dynamism throughout.
Above all, the film’s 1980s setting is its most characterful asset, featuring a good soundtrack and fun costume and production design across the board that at least set the film apart from the most generic and bland of cop thrillers.
Also, while it sadly doesn’t play quite as striking an atmospheric role, the film does have an entertainingly pulsating late-night vibe in the vein of Michael Mann’s Collateral. Death In Buenos Aires doesn’t use it to great effect – as shown by its rather lacklustre pacing – but it is still a small crumb of comfort in the middle of a sea of frustrating mediocrity.
And that was my overwhelming impression of this film come the finish: a rather average story in disappointingly underwhelming fashion, worsened by a screenplay that never tries hard enough to be genuinely exciting or intelligent, making for a thriller that’s really quite hard to be thrilled by.
The plot itself is poor from the start, with a lack of mystery and difficult-to-predict twists throughout only reinforcing the notion that the film has few original or exciting ideas. And with expectations like that from the beginning, there’s never a point where the film seems to be ramping up to its most exhilarating moments, with each twist and turn just another dull and underwhelming step in a forgettable story.
And what’s worse is that the film’s few big twists really don’t seem to make sense with all that’s come before. A really great twist is the sort that makes you think back to what you’ve already seen in a totally different way the second it’s revealed, but each of Death In Buenos Aires’ big twists feel undeserved, jarring and again quite underwhelming – failing to pull off the exhilarating finale it’s aiming for.
Overall, then, there really isn’t much to write home about Death In Buenos Aires. It’s not a truly terrible film, and has a couple of memorable and charismatic elements, but its poor screenplay, dull pacing and badly-plotted twists make it a generally disappointing watch, and one that really isn’t worth your time, which is why I’m giving it a 6.0.