Life has not been easy for Kay (Aida Folch). Her only family is her deadbeat Dad, who swings between making dodgy deals and losing any gains through gambling. Amidst it all, she meets a kindred spirit in Abel (Francesc Garrido), a taciturn former boxer and father of a young boy, now making a living as a strong-arm debt collector.
When one of her father’s schemes presents a sudden, high-risk way out of her situation, Kay recruits Abel. Together, they must negotiate a complex web of betrayal, intrigue and corrupt cops if they are to make it out alive – and with the cash.
The world of Spanish suspenser 25 Carat is not a particularly original one. The annals of film around the world are packed with similar tales of gangsters and kidnap and handovers. But while the movie does not look to break any new ground, it hits all the bases and does it well.
The focus on the lead pair of characters means they are well-developed and sympathetic. Kay may pride herself on being tough and independent, but she is desperately lonely. Abel thinks he has everything figured out, only to realise from Kay’s relationship with her Dad his own shortcomings as a parent. Both are damaged individuals fighting to retain some sense of morality. The result is that we, the audience, really care as the situation becomes increasingly complex and dangerous. The tension ratchets up because we want to see these two people find each other and escape.
The camerawork is subtle, but effective, making the most of natural light. The shots are often extremely tight when the lead characters are involved, adding to the sense of intimacy. The violence, when it happens, is shot in matter-of-fact style. It is sudden and messy; there are no choreographed martial arts experts here.
25 Carat is an action-thriller that could come from any country. But it shows that a solid plot with affecting characters still delivers the goods and this is a comfortable cut above average.
25 Carat is available on R4 DVD from Aztec.