The title of Alexander Witt's new film, Sayen: Desert Road, reminds you of George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road. Both the movies are set in a desert region and contain action sequences. That's a pretty broad comparison. Truth be told, the two films should never be placed in front of each other. Miller's dystopian extravaganza can crush Witt's feeble project without exertion. Because Sayen: Desert Road has less texture than the dusty sands of the desert. It's so forgettable that most of the scenes evaporate from your memory as soon as you see them on the screen. There is nothing worth holding on to here. The movie becomes tedious from the beginning itself.
Let's get the basic details out of the way. The story is set in Atacama, Northern Chile. There is a company called Acteon Atacama that exploits the water in the region, leading to the destruction of Atacama's ecosystem. The CEO of this company is Máximo (Enrique Arce), and he is your typical all-bark-no-bite bad guy. He loves weapons, fires bullets here and there, and is supposed to be a menacing presence. Of course, we don't take him seriously. He doesn't look so different from a background actor placed to merely fill up the set. In fact, every character in the film only exists to roam in the desert. They drive in the cars or beat up each other.
There is no heat in Witt's filmmaking. Everything is sorely bland and lethargic. The chase sequences fail to get your adrenaline going. A truck crashes softly into a building. The characters punch one another without fury. They might just as well be rehearsing flippantly. Sayen: Desert Road has absorbed scenes from other movies and then regurgitated them. Hence, we get the shot of Sayen (Rallen Montenegro) barely escaping from an explosion (a goon goes to check up on her when she is tied to a chair). She also sees someone close to her who gives her motivation. Moreover, Sayen and Gasper (Jorge López) get drawn to each other (he wants to escape with her), and the latter betrays her because that's what normally happens in most of these films. There is no other motivation for these events. Everything rigidly takes place as per some guidebook.
If you somehow manage to watch these scenes with your eyes open, you will come across a silly climactic section where two people exchange blows on the top of a moving vehicle while another man points his gun at one of them from his helicopter. This might have sounded thrilling on paper, but on the screen, it's shoddily executed. This soporific feature ends on a chilling note that promises a sequel (this is the second part of the trilogy). I wish there had been some wit in Sayen: Desert Road, but that three-letter word is only found in the name of the director. Máximo handles most of the problems by stating that the public will cease to remember everything within a few weeks as they have a short-term memory. Little does he know that his line can also be applied to this movie. If you, like me, have watched Sayen: Desert Road, then fret not; you will forget all about it within a week or so.
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