A light heist movie aimed at Spanish-speaking U.S. audiences and decorated with a cross section of attractive telenovela stars, this good-natured genre piece gets the job done while sneaking in a couple of pointed observations about contemporary Latino immigrant life.
Slick professional thief Alejandro (Fernando Colunga) has a brilliant plan to rob oily, L.A.-based infomercial tycoon Moctezuma Valdez (Saul Lisazo), who made his fortune bilking poor immigrants out of hard-earned dollars they can't afford to lose on bogus weight-loss creams, cures for impotence and baldness, and, worst of all, Agua de Dios, piously packaged snake oil purported to cure everything from allergies to cancer. Valdez is the best kind of mark, an arrogant, duplicitous bastard with a trophy wife (Sonya Smith) and a vulgar Los Angeles mansion. Even his name is a lie he's really Claudio Silvestrini of Argentina, but "Moctezuma Valdez" plays better to his largely Mexican constituency. Burned by the collapse of Argentina's economy, Valdez doesn't trust banks. And therein lies his weak spot: His dirty money is stashed in a safe in his mansion. Sure, the place is bristling with security and the vault's lock requires two key cards, Valdez's and the one his live-in accountant, Primitivo (Richard Azurdia), carries at all times. But it wouldn't be fun without challenges, would it? Alejandro starts by bringing in his old pal Emilio (Miguel Varoni) from Colombia, then springs the bad news: Of the pros they've worked with in the past, none is willing or able to take on the job. Alejandro's solution: Since the plan was to sneak in the crew disguised as the kind of invisible immigrant workers gardeners, handymen, cleaning women, valets who facilitate the luxe lifestyles of the rich and famous, why not hire real immigrants with appropriate skills? Emilio is dubious, but Alejandro, undaunted, recruits electronics whiz Julio (screenwriter JoJo Henrickson), skilled driver Rafa (Ruben Garfias) and his daughter, tomboy mechanic Rafaela (Ivonne Montero), along with actor Miguelito (Oscar Torres) and hunky muscleman Anival (Gabriel Soto), who knows construction including tunnels.
Director Joe Menendez keeps the action moving while making sure to pause for appreciative shots of his ridiculously good-looking cast, and the sex and violence are kept to a reasonable minimum, neither squeaky clean nor actively nasty. The title, from a Latin-American proverb that translates "the thief who robs a thief earns 100 years of forgiveness," sums up its moral, which might be irritating attached to a less breezy picture but fits this one to a skintight T. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh