Mario Casas feels comfortable with those characters on the edge, tormented, subjected to solitary challenges and dilemmas, who hang up their tie to step into the mud of hell on duty. It is a stereotype that lends itself well to the resultant simplifications of the thriller of action of the algorithm era. At the age of 37, Casas has been exploring variants of that register until reaching his last antihero, the dark martyr of Bird Box Barcelona, spin-off of the American Blindly (2018), a Netflix success starring Sandra Bullock whose result was much higher than that achieved by her Spanish relative.
Bird Box Barcelona is, like its predecessor, a thriller dystopian horror based on the novel by Josh Malerman with a good dose of death and blood. At times, the entrails are the most digestible of a film that sins of an apocalyptic hodgepodge with religious sects and inexplicable creatures, seasoned with mostly very flat dialogues (despite the quotes from classics like chinatown: “It hurts?”. “Only when I breathe”). The drama and the characters are thus poorly defined outside the action sequences, the best resolved and impressive.
The main plot twist with respect to the first film clears up soon, but the whole plot around the messianic priest played by Leonardo Sbaraglia borders on caricature. The local touch has a double aspect. On the one hand, there is dystopian Barcelona, and on the other, an iconography of a Catholic mass that reaches its climax when an aura of holiness crowns the head of the martyr-prophet-fallen angel that Casas brings to life.
The film by the Pastor brothers, who have already directed the Galician actor in the interesting Home (2020), detaches from Blindly, a film that delved deeper into the intimate drama and suspense of a story of pure survival. Headed by the mother who embodied Bullock, the eyes of the characters were blindfolded so as not to come into contact with the beings or entities that attacked humans in daylight, causing their sudden suicide. If that one, directed by Susanne Bier, had the interiors, its characters and the rise of a river as its final catharsis as its strong points, the spin-off The Barcelonan takes advantage of the geometry of the Eixample or the Montjuïc cable car for his departure, contributing to the spectacularity of the action the tourist postcard.
All that the city and the thriller of action is lost in the definition of some secondary ones that are very wasted by the broad brush of a script that, deep down, entrusts everything to the winning card of its leading actor.
Bird Box Barcelona
Address: Alex Pastor and David Pastor.
Performers: Mario Casas, Georgina Campbell, Diego Calva, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Lola Dueñas, Patrick Criado, Gonzalo de Castro.
Gender: thriller. Spain, 2023.
Duration: 101 minutes.
Premiere: June 14.
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