Directed by J. Felipe Orozco, Los Iniciados (aka, The Initiated) is most active when it deals with violence. Someone's neck is slit with elegance. Female wrestlers charge the frame with their kicks and punches. And there is so much tension produced during a scene where a woman attempts to save herself from strangulation and a man tries to escape from a burning container. Squint a little, and you will find Orozco rubbing his hands in excitement whenever things threaten to turn brutal. This is why Los Iniciados looks smooth and stylish during sequences like the one where a man hunts for his target from above or the one where a freelance journalist, Mónica Perea (Lomaasbello), alarmingly sees a man standing at her door.
That journalist ends up being murdered by that man at her door, galvanizing everything and everyone into action. There are moments where the characters express how much they adore Mónica and what she means to them. However, we fail to see where this reverence is coming from. The movie uses Mónica as a tool to put the plot in motion. We know she is talented at her job because the screenplay says so. I didn't even believe that she was a journalist. Similarly, Andrés Parra is unable to sell Frank Molina as a brilliant journalist. You merely consider him an alcoholic and are not convinced when a character informs us that he was competent at his job at one point.
That's the major issue with Los Iniciados. It puts up a front, and the audience is easily able to see through it. The movie wants to appear complex, but it doesn't have any gray characters. We figure out who is good and who is evil and what a character will do next. Ignacio Pombo (Juan Pablo Urrego), as a man torn between romance and politics, could have introduced an air of uncertainty, but the simple-minded story leaves little doubt regarding what step he would end up taking.
Los Iniciados presents José Restrepo's character as a scary, cold-blooded killer. Restrepo manages to ooze menace, though the movie isn't able to do justice to this character. He is almost childishly defeated by Frank during important moments. I laughed when he was pushed inside a container. Here is a man who eventually turns out to be all bark and no bite. Of course, he kills some people. Still, he doesn't register as a major inconvenience.
The world of Los Iniciados is set in the near future, where there is a shortage of water. What's worse is that the city is drenched with acid rain, so you cannot collect or drink the water falling from above. There is, however, a place that has lots of fresh water and is dubbed The Snake's Nest. Where is this place? Will the bad guys reach there first, or will Frank successfully expose them? These questions never feel intriguing to us, and the movie answers them with an air of nonchalance.
Apart from violence, the other good thing about Los Iniciados is Aria Jara. She looks gleefully deranged when she smiles after being repeatedly hit by her opponent in the ring. And when she rides her bike in that black outfit, you see her as a poised, no-nonsense individual. Here is someone who's a sight for sore eyes and should have been present in an equally good-looking production.
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