Starring: Aida Folch, Jose Coronado, Leyre Berrocal
Having smaller budgets than most Hollywood output, Spanish films tend to focus more on the story, which is refreshing now and again, especially in the current climate of shitty superhero movies. Although it doesn’t deliver half as much action as I’d hoped going on the cover and the synopsis printed on the back, Fuego is tense, entertaining and quite touching at times. What’s more, it’s a film about revenge, and that’s always a good start for a manly movie, even if there’s not that much action when it comes down to it.
Carlos is a cop. When Basque separatists plant a bomb in his car, he, by chance, escapes unharmed, but his wife is killed and his daughter is terribly maimed, losing both of her legs. We actually see the poor kid’s charred legs smouldering in the flames of the wreckage.
Understandably, Carlos only has one thing on his mind after that, getting the bastards that did it and making them pay. But with the main perpetrator in prison, Carlos takes a more personalised approach, setting his sights on the terrorist’s wife and son, who are still walking free, despite the wife’s suspected involvement in the terrorist group.
Consumed by hate and driven to the brink of despair, Carlos is an intense guy, but with a good heart, and given what happens you can’t help rooting for him. But things get complicated when he realises that his primary target isn’t the villain he’d imagined. To top it off, the son has down’s syndrome and a bond quickly develops between the pair of them as Carlos plays the good guy whilst laying the foundations of his plan, which involves getting close to the wife and son before finally revealing his true identity and dishing up some brutal retribution by way of gun and sledgehammer.
In spite of the lack of action I think the revenge aspect, the glaring intensity of the protagonist and the ex-cop versus ETA terrorists plot is enough to bring this one firmly within the manly movie domain. I liked Carlos’ motto – “If you have a problem face it head on – break it’s neck or let it break yours.” Sure, there are a few missed opportunities for some decent head busting violence but that’s just not what this movie is about. It’s a dramatic slow burner, with more of an emotional impact than a visceral one. But it’s well acted and pretty well written.