leave a comment --Ken Fox
Gringo tourists learn that globalization cuts both ways — literally — when they leave their hearts and a whole lot more in the wilds of Brazil. Obviously inspired by the surprise success of HOSTEL, which made hash of some ugly Americans in Slovakia, this disappointing, worst-case-scenario thriller tips its hand entirely too early before heading further south than Rio. Alex (Josh Duhamel), his younger sister Amy (Beau Garrett), and Amy's wild best friend Bea (Olivia Wilde) are backpacking through Brazil, a trip Alex never really wanted to make but did as favor to Amy. Their next stop is Belem, and though overly cautious Alex argues in favor of flying — a sure sign that events will soon prove flying to have been the far better option — Amy insists they take a rickety bus. She wants to see the beautiful Brazilian countryside up close, and an up-close view is exactly what they get when the bus careens off a cliff hugging their mountain road. No one is seriously hurt, but they're 18 hours from Belem, and it's 10 hours until the next bus. Luckily, they've crashed not far from a paradisiacal stretch of sand complete with a funky beach bar, where beautiful locals and fellow in-the-know tourists gather for drinks and dancing far into the night. With the party in full swing, even Alex agrees to forget about returning in time to make the next bus. But the good times come to a screeching halt when they wake up the following morning facedown in the sand, finding no trace of the bar, the locals, their wallets, their backpacks or their shoes. Realizing they've been drugged and robbed, Alex, Amy, Bea, Aussie backpacker Pru (Melissa George), and pub-crawling Brits Finn (Desmond Askew) and Liam (Max Brown) stumble into the nearest village looking for help but wind up on the wrong end of a mob when Liam beans a kid with a rock. They're quickly hustled out of town by Kiko (Agles Steib), one of the friendly locals from the bar, who offers to take them to the remote jungle home of his "uncle" (Miguel Lunardi) — a dilapidated villa stocked with surgical instruments and the wallets of guests who haven't been seen since. The cast is unusually good for this sort of film, which only makes the poor execution more regrettable. Whatever momentum the film builds during its first half is completely lost during two endless chase sequences, one through the jungle at night, the other through a series of underwater caves and tunnels. Both are so poorly realized that its virtually impossible to figure out what's happening and to whom; far from being scary, it's actually quite dull. Even the film's sly comment on free trade's blowback gets lost in the running, screaming, swimming and darkness.