The Reel Review
A rookie cop driving his first prisoner transport during a wintry, overnight journey across Spain’s winding backroads is plunged into danger when it comes under attack, in this action/thriller reminiscent of the Nicholas Cage 1997 action/thriller Con Air. Not only must he survive the attack from outside, but he faces deadly challenges inside from his own unruly prisoners.
Below Zero (Bajocero in Spanish) has some pretty far-fetched story twists – no cell phones or GPS tracking during a prison transport (really?!?), the miraculous ease of changing tires on a big rig without a jack, etc – but all that aside, this Spanish language action/thriller from co-writer/director Lluís Quílez is a claustrophobic, pulse-pounding joyride with some pretty surprising plot twists, as we see which character is going to face his gruesome demise next.
Javier Gutiérrez (Marshland, Assassin’s Creed), Spain’s own action hybrid of Jason Statham and Bruce Willis, is the glue that adds believability to this saga, his character trying to be a good cop during an increasingly hopeless set of circumstances. After a really intense, action-packed first hour, the film pumps the brakes and veers into a slightly different path – a moral tale about justice and an ineffective legal system. Despite a comparatively sluggish midsection and some highly improbable story decisions, Below Zero is still a pretty entertaining ride worth taking.
• Javier Gutiérrez has appeared in more than 50 films since 2002, twice winning the Goya Award (Spain’s Oscar) for Best Actor in 2017’s El autor (The Motive) and 2014’s Marshland.
• Born in Barcelona, director Lluís Quílez is also known for the post-apocalyptic short films 72% and Graffiti and the 2014 horror/thriller Out of the Dark, starring Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman.
• Below Zero (Bajocero) was filmed in Madrid.