In the Spanish Film Festival, Daniel Calparsoro’s CIEN ANOS DE PERDON/To Steal from a Thief is a precision tooled bank job movie in gleaming, cool colour.
At the down town Valencia Banco Mediterranea with its massive metal doors, it’s the last day of the alarm system outage under maintenance. Sleek manager Patricia Vico learns that she’s on “the list.” Redundancy looms as the rain pours down.
Our favourite Spanish hard man Luis Tosar leads his squad of no-hoper heist men wearing see-through plastic masks in a raid, psyching down the out-gunned armed guard (what happens to him?) and roughing up the teller who presses the alarm.
Co-conspirator Rodrigo De la Serna (Motorcycle Diaries) manages to hold his own with Tosar in our attention - no mean feat.
The crew are soon emptying out the safe keeping boxes but we learn that more is at stake. A hard drive has details of a Minister’s evil deeds. Cops and officials are pouring Guardia Civil manpower into the area aided by cell ‘phone conferencing. The leads stride about the parlays, under their weapons, undeterred.
Inside alliances with Vico, an undercover informer, and Tosar are being shaped. “This day has to end and I want it to end without violence.”
The development is ingenious and absolutely immoral as we root for the robbers rather than the cowering hostages made to wear the mercury triggered explosive vests.
After that telling ray of sunshine, warm in the green colour scheme, getting back into the outside city-scape is a striking release of tension.
Technical work and performance are superior though the piece could stand some trimming in the later stages.
This one is a reminder that Hispanic popular cinema is full of work that could fill our time better than a lot of what we are offered.