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Towards Darkness (DVD Review)

22 Jun, 2008 By: Brendan Howard

Towards Darkness

Prebook 6/24/08; Street 7/22/08
Peace Arch
$19.99 DVD
Rated ‘R' for some strong violence, language, and a scene of sexuality.
Stars America Ferrera, Roberto Urbina, David Sutcliffe.

America Ferrera, known these days for her ugly-ducking comic turn in TV's “Ugly Betty,” is stunning in a dramatic role as a woman with a secret in this taut thriller.

Towards Darkness is an issue-conscious piece, akin to Steven Soderbergh's drug war epic Traffic, and is focused on the tragedy of rampant kidnappings by rebels and criminals in Colombia. The ransom-seeking crimes continue to this day.

The movie begins in a burst of action, with the main character, Jose (played by a devilishly charming Roberto Urbina), being assaulted on a dark street. In just a few short minutes, the audience learns what's happening: Jose has been kidnapped by rebels, terrorists or garden-variety criminals who want a hefty ransom to make the crime worth their while.

Jose's parents have gone to an American agency instead of the Colombian police, worried that the local cops would be ineffective in finding Jose lost in the jungles. The movie ramps up, with the parents growing more emotional and desperate, the camo-wearing Delta Force retirees flying by helicopter to Jose, and an American agent racing to get the cash to the rendezvous on time.

Timely and penetrating flashbacks develop the characters of Jose, Luiza, Jose's parents, and the American agents in moments of flawless dramatic tension and everyday charm. I'm fairly unaffected by thrillers, but this film's sudden beginning, sympathetic character, and slow but unstoppable build toward a devastating climax had my heart pounding and my nerves on fire.

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