Movie Review: The 4th Company (2016)

Starring: Adrian Ladron, Andoni Gracia and Hernan Mendoza

Directed by: Mitzi Vanessa Arreola and Amir Galvan Cervera

Zambrano is a juvenile prisoner who has been in and out of trouble for most of his life and he finds himself inside a notoriously corrupt Mexican prison. His true passion in life is to play American football and inside prison he joins the football team but in turn joins the 4th Company who control the services and privileges inside the prison walls.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous reviews I am slowly attempting to expand my horizon within movies and watch more foreign language movies. With so many movies made each year I tend to get drawn to either British or American movies and not s great deal else gets a look in. So far this year I watched Cambodian movie, First They Killed My Father which was absolutely fantastic and Korean film, Joint Security Area which was a solid watch. Now it’s time for Mexico to show me what it can produce. I stumbled across The 4th Company on Netflix and had a greater interest in it when I found out it was based on true events.

I’ll start off by saying that I was hoping for a very good movie, Mexican prisons and the corruption that the country’s legal system is fuelled by has always left me intrigued coming from UK where out legal system is a completely different animal to that of Mexico’s. This movie does a fantastic job at depicting the harsh realities of life inside a corrupt Mexican prison in the seventies. A prison where the guards don’t care about the prisoners and pretty much assign a small group of prisoners who play for their football team known as Los Perros to run certain aspects of the prison. The conditions inside the prison were bleak and the directors manage to realistically portray these terrible conditions where prisoners had to endure and still do endure to this day in certain parts of Central and South America. There were also some fairly decent acting performances from a handful of the prisoners with the standout being Hernan Mendoza who plays long term prisoner Palafox who just wants to do right by his daughter but his current predicament prevents him from doing which makes him very relatable.

Unfortunately this is where the positivity towards the movie ends as a large portion of the cast were very generic with a lack of true acting quality. While there were flashes of brilliance from time to time these flashes were very few and far between. Also main character Zambrona who was played by Adrian Ladron was pretty poor and definitely incorrectly cast for me. This movie was advertised as a movie that centralised around American football and I was half expecting a Longest Yard/Gridiron Gang type of film with more corruption and ruthlessness but we were lucky to see about 5 minutes of football montage which I would’ve preferred to have seen a greater balance of football to prison life. Finally, the script seemed pretty derivative and basic and I felt that it needed a lot more work to be the finished article.

Overall, this movie was a bit of a disappointment which needed a lot more work to be a good watch. A insight into Mexican prison life was well portrayed but outside of that it failed to deliver.


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