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Awesome: 20.59%
Worth A Look64.71%
Average: 14.71%
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3 reviews, 16 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"Max Von Sydow is the Nosferatu of the Luck Vampires"
4 stars

Imagine if someone could steal your luck from you with just a simple touch, or the quick snap of a polaroid. Now imagine that they could use that luck for their own gain, or trade it away to someone else - another luck stealer. Of course, if your luck is as shitty as mine usually is, you probably wouldn't notice much difference. But if you're at the roulette table and have the house down $50K, you might be more than a little miffed at having your streak broken after a stranger "accidentally" touches your hand.

The world of Intacto offers up this intriguing premise, exposing a strange underground of luck stealers, gamblers, and traders. So far, the undisputed king of luck thieves is Samuel the Jew (Max Von Sydow), and aged recluse who lives in the basement of the casino he owns, and who discovered his talent the hard way in the camps of World War 2. Samuel keeps his face hidden (lest anyone snap a picture of it) and keeps the occasional visitor at arm's length. He sends his protege', Frederico (Eusebio Poncela) to do his dirty work, "accidentally" brushing up against patrons whose winning streaks grow too large.

But Frederico is disattisfied with the arrangement and wants out. He is not allowed to leave, however, before Samuel has stolen his gift from him and had his goons drop him off beside the highway after a vicious beatdown.

Although Frederico is stripped of his talent, he can still recognize it in others. He becomes a headhunter, looking for extraoridnarily lucky people in which the gift can be cultivated. He's searching for one powerful enough to challenge Samuel, and he finds a likely candidate in Tomas (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a bank robber in flight who has been found alive, sitting upright in his seat amid a field of wreckage - wreckage from the plane that he was just on, and of which he is the only survivor.

Meanwhile, police detective Sara (Monica Lopez) is after Tomas, and finds her attempts to capture him foiled repeatedly by Frederico and other luck stealers who wish to use Tomas' abilities. As it turns out, however, the badly scarred Sara (having lost her family, and nearly her own life, in a car wreck) has a touch of the gift herself, although she doesn't fully realize it.

Though at times the rules of this luck-stealing underworld aren't exactly clear (for example, is having a photograph of a person enough to steal their luck, or must the luck-thief actually take the photograph themselves?) and the plot becomes a bit mired in its own cleverness, Intacto is an intriguing notion and offers up a whole new twist on the doublecross heist genre. Any similarity to films like Unbreakable are superficial at best (in fact, I found Intacto to be somewhat superior). Some of the most enjoyable moments are when the luck thieves, having each stolen luck from a random victim, engage in a bizarre series of betting games to see who is the luckiest. While the games start off as merely bizarre, they soon grow increasingly dangerous as the stakes are raised. When the lucky ones get to the final round, a game of reverse Russian roulette with Samuel himself, things get really interesting.

Spanish cinema has turned out some excellent fare in recent years, and INTACTO, despite it's few flaws, is no exception. Strong performances from an international cast, and a respectable script full of twists and turns that are admirably handled by director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo make INTACTO a solid thriller.

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originally posted: 08/11/03 05:39:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
7/11/07 Steven Murray good movie,but it's sad that dozens of people died copying the dash across traffic scene 3 stars
6/01/05 tatum Often interesting 4 stars
3/15/05 maya low great film 4 stars
9/27/04 ALBERT creepy 4 stars
5/07/04 Daniel Amara I love everything about this movie... 5 stars
2/24/04 Jonni Absolutely riveting.. keeps u guessing. The best 5 stars
2/23/04 Sam Berg Awesome. See it. 5 stars
12/04/03 Helen Bradley wierd story line incosistent 3 stars
11/30/03 John Bale Best essay in the uneasy since "A Pure Formality" Von Sydow performs well 5 stars
10/12/03 Mitsaso Genuine and solid...a must-see. 5 stars
9/11/03 inferno dvd bloody brilliant 5 stars
8/28/03 LusT4DetH Nice concept, needed more Cloak&Dagger type luck stealing, less luck gambling 3 stars
8/15/03 King Ricky The games that they would play were pretty awesome to watch 3 stars
12/15/02 Nadia McGowan It's hard to do decent films in spain, it's just great that they produce something differen 5 stars
12/14/02 Ross Max von turns in a good performance. Decent fair 3 stars
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  13-Dec-2002 (R)
  DVD: 24-Jun-2003



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