Chicago Latino Film Fest Review: Elite

Elite is a Spanish language action  film—with sprinkles of  Spanglish dialogue throughout—directed by Andrés Ramírez, set on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico. It’s a befuddling film with high-hopes to be cinematic and Hollywood, a hybridization, for Ramírez, that fails level by level. It’s about a private investigator, Sandra Torres, who is convinced by a government arranged team of off-beat officers to avenge her father’s 20 year old death in exchange, for the governor, the capture of Saldaña, the narcotic spreading prison escapee.

Full speed ahead, Elite begins with Sandra, protectively, sitting next to a pregnant damsel—gun in hand—as her husband bangs angrily to get in on the other side of the front door. Sandra slips into a side entrance and skillfully downs the dangerous, bulbous husband informing the audience of her role as the film’s heroine: the bad-ass cop that rides away on her motorcycle. Although we never learn what happens to that first storyline, it’s seemingly an exposition tool that provides context for the mysterious demeanor of head-strong yet adept Sandra Torres.

Elite wants to be worthy enough and vies for our attention as the plot (and subplots) unfold. Sandra  is introduced to her soon to be team—and inevitable love interest in the group—of avengers for her murdered-police-officer-father’s killer, Saldaña the Drug Lord, and ultimate villain of the film. The paradigm of good and bad is clear—with bad turning on bad of course—and occasional moments of good officers exerting their excusable hyper-masculine cop moments that are relieved by one-liner laughs and quasi-excitable action movie thrills.

The gems of the film are often hard to dig up because of the just-ok acting, unmotivated usages of “maricon,” and heavy-handed storylines. However, once that is surpassed, the flashback’s to Sandra’s childhood are beautifully captured and perhaps the best acting in the film—one might think the auteur would have shot the entire film this masterfully.

Heixan Robles’s cinematographic effort is Elite’s saving grace. The overall goodness of the production quality of the film will have one leaving feeling optimistic and a bit curious about what other films and talents are hiding in Puerto Rico’s independent movie world.

Puerto Rico, 2010, 106 min.
Director: Andrés Ramírez
Genre: Action
Spanish with subtitles

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