(2021) Action (Screen Media) Manny Perez, Sarah Jorge León, Hada Vanessa, Chris McGarry, Juan Fernández, Félix Germán, Vicente Suriel, Billy M. Mejia, Albania Matos, Jay Ramirez, Joseph Cepin, Siegfried Puello, Pablo Rodriguez Masjoan, Brazu Montanez, Jhomphy Ventura, Michael Ras Wolf, Leonel Severino, Joyce Vandreuil, Jose Gutierrez, Juan Babyface Matos, Yakim Parker, Rose Peralta. Directed by Manny Perez
Back in 2009, La Soga had the distinction of being the first movie from the Dominican Republic to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival. A dozen years later, the sequel repeated the feat and is now finding theatrical and streaming release here in the United States.
Luisito (Perez, who also wrote and directed the sequel) is living a quiet life in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with his girlfriend Lia (León), trying to forget his past as a hitman for the secret police in his home country of the Dominican Republic, going by the code name of La Soga. The two have spent the last decade moving from place to place, trying to stay away from vengeful drug lords who still want a pound of Luisito’s flesh. But now, it seems, they have found the tranquility and anonymity they both desire and are thinking about finally starting a family. In fact, Lia has just discovered the she is pregnant, and is looking forward to breaking the good news to her boyfriend.
But before she can, his past finally catches up with him, in the person of Federal agent James McCann (McGarry), who jovially likes to be called “Jimmy Mac.” He has a job for La Soga, which Luisito doesn’t want to take. He knows that he and Lia must once more go on the run. He just needs to pick up his last paycheck from the bodega he works in and they can go, but he is ambushed there by McCann’s men. He survives the ambush, and hurries home, to find the apartment in chaos and Lia gone. He gets a phone call from McCann; he has Lia, and will kill her if that job he wanted done doesn’t get done. Luisito has no choice but to take on the assignment, which is to kill a Dominican drug lord before he can go on trial.
But it turns out there’s another player in the game, one with a far more personal stake in the goings-on, and just as deadly as Luisito. Now, he has to find Lia, rescue her and avoid all manner of assassins if he is to save his family.
As action films go, this one is somewhat generic. Perez has a kind of smoldering, brooding presence that is generally suitable for the genre, but he also isn’t a superhuman killing machine either; he is perhaps the most ordinary action hero that I’ve ever seen in a genre film, and that’s truly welcome. When your hero is virtually unstoppable, it tends to take the tension out of the cinematic equation.
The movie is generally well-written, but doesn’t offer any variation on tried-and-true formulas, so in that sense the movie is entirely forgettable. Still, León has a great deal of screen presence, even though it isn’t utilized much, and Perez does a pretty good job as well. While the action sequences aren’t innovative, they are at least competently done and devoid of any CGI assistance. Generally speaking, this is a throwback to the B-movie action films of the Eighties and that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
REASONS TO SEE: Luisito is a different kind of action hero.
REASONS TO AVOID: Very standard action flick in many respects.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a fair amount of violence, profanity, brief nudity and some drug use.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The English translation of La Soga is “the Rope.”
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, DirecTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 1/29/2022: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Sicario
FINAL RATING: 6/10