A tense drug tale in ‘Manos Su­cias’

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Robert Abele

The blighted world of Afro-Colom­bian vil­lagers in the vi­o­lence-riven port of Bue­naven­tura is the back­drop for Josef Kub­ota Wla­dyka’s crime drama “Manos Su­cias,” pro­duced by Spike Lee.

For naive, as­pir­ing rap­per and new dad De­lio (Cris­tian Ad­vin­cula), be­ing asked by traf­fick­ers to trans­port a co­caine-filled tor­pedo on a boat along the Colom­bian coast­line is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing him is his brother Ja­cobo (Jar­lin Martinez), who sees the danger­ous job as a ne­ces­sity, the last chance to es­cape his im­pov­er­ished fish­er­man’s life.

Gen­er­a­tional fric­tion be­tween the two — over life am­bi­tions, mu­sic tastes and soc­cer greats — gets put aside, though, when the mission goes bad. Though the plot turns aren’t nec­es­sar­ily sur­pris­ing and char­ac­ter­i­za­tions a bit facile, Wla­dyka man­ages tense mo­ments, par­tic­u­larly a chase on mo­tor­ized rail cars.

More ef­fec­tive is the film’s nat­u­ral­is­tic mood, its por­trait of an en­vi­ron­ment dom­i­nated by a wretched busi­ness, one that scars lives and up­ends hopes and dreams. De­lio and Ja­cobo find mo­ments of hu­mor and song to share. But as “Manos Su­cias” makes clear, a life in this trade can find a way to end those mighty quick. “Manos Su­cias.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 17 min­utes. In Span­ish with sub­ti­tles. Play­ing: Laemmle’s Mu­sic Hall 3, Bev­erly Hills.

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