When Lusito and his girlfriend, Lia, are engaged in an intimate conversation right at the start of the film, she tells him, “Your head is a mess. You are like a kid.” As I watched the events unfold on the screen for ninety-two long minutes, I thought it was a statement foreshadowing the screenplay of the movie itself. La Soga Salvation, directed by Manny Perez, who had written and produced La Soga (2009), is confusing for how mindless the violence is, erupting into gunfires and stabbings just for the sake of fitting this film into the genre of an action-crime thriller.

La Soga (2009) traced a cop’s journey as he worked against his country’s corruption-inducing government, primarily intending to avenge his father’s death. La Soga Salvation picks up from where the previous story had ended. Lusito a.k.a. La Soga, played by Manny Perez, has abandoned his previous life of crime. He is a loving boyfriend to Lia, played by Sarah Jorge Leon, and is trying to conceive a baby with her, settled as they are now in a quiet, seaside town. However, very early in the film, his past catches up with him and chases him around till the end. This chase has two prospects – one, a federal agent who wants to get one last thing done by Lusito and two, a party of criminals hounding Lusito for revenge.

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The plot makes a sincere effort to braid these bad people with Lusito’s fair intention of going through the ordeal they put him through to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend. However, what ultimately plays out on the screen appears to be a messy bun that forgot what it set out to become until the very end. I even lost track of what was happening as the why is it happening kept bothering me from the moment Dani, played by Hada Vanessa, appeared on the screen in a wig and oddly fitted clothes. Some five-ten minutes in this film gripped my attention and saw me sitting at the edge of my seat, ultimately leaving me feeling oddly unsatisfied to think that a movie pregnant with the possibility of bearing a palpitating pace succumbs to a sobbing, hiccuping drama.

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The character of the federal agent, James McCann, played by Chris McGarry, has left me most puzzled. While most federal agents in films are confident, cunning, and risk-taking (think about Agent Sean Archer from Face/Off), James doesn’t feature any of these characters. He asserts again and again that he is a federal agent, even in the most perilous situations, but it only contributes to his disadvantage. If it were a conscious effort at showing us a federal agent who lacks the finesse to be one, then it is a job well done. Otherwise, it is a sorry sight, sometimes even funny, to see him deal with Lusito weaponless and get stabbed in odd places, again and again, for his misdirected confidence.

We have a direct collision between two female characters who portray two extremes of the feminine spectrum. Lia is understanding, innocent, and driven by love to take decisions, while Dani is a hyper-sexualized female assassin, driven by rage and revenge, cruel and blood-thirsty. It would have been a sight to catch these characters see-sawing their energies through the plot, but the influence of Dani is too pronounced, and Lia’s is limited to crying and feeling scared – another disappointing tangent in a film of more misses and hits.

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Our protagonist, Lusito, wears a beard that helps mask his expressions, serving as an advantage and disadvantage. His love for Lia comes off as too standoffish because of the beard while it helps maintain the blank slate of his face in front of his perpetrators. His character also lapses into dreams, swinging between butt-naked (literally) surreal nightmares and flashes of romance. Lusito is burdened with being the plot of the film, its caricatures, and its soul, but I don’t think the character could bear so much and, by its end, easily crumbles into an emotional jelly.

The dialogues aren’t a saving grace either. In a conversation between Lia and Lusito, the former confesses that she could go on to live in ‘ice huts’ for him. Lusito, in reply, asks if she meant ‘igloos’, and she nods at it. If you were in my place, you’d see how confused I was with this exchange. It can mean that Lusito enjoys wordplay even in intimate moments or that they shot the scene in one take, and the lines were improvised. In any other scenario, this is an example of a poorly written dialogue. I am more convinced about the below-average quality of the dialogues because they fail to improve themselves throughout the film, filling in the gaps with repetitive lines. Further, there is a constant shuttle between Spanish and English lines, so much that it sounds more incoherent than persuasive.

La Soga Salvation is the curry that lacks flavor but contains all the right elements in un-uniform proportions; worst, it chooses to sprinkle violence like salt over the finished dish. The result, therefore, is a uniquely spicy film that I hope doesn’t get serialized anymore.

Trailer

La Soga Salvation Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
La Soga Salvation Cast – Manny Perez, Sarah Jorge León, Hada Vanessa

 

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