Grupo 7 (2012)

Rating: C+

Dir: Alberto Rodríguez
Star: Antonio de la Torre, Mario Casas, Joaquín Nuñez, José Manuel Poga
a.k.a. Unit 7

As preparations get into full swing for the 1992 Seville Expo, the city’s police force come under increasing pressure to clean up downtown, targetting in particular the local drug-dealers. Leading the sweep is Grupo 7, a unit of four police officers led by Rafael (de la Torre), and including Angel (Casas), an aspiring detective who has to juggle work, home and his diabetic condition. He soon finds out that doing their job requires more than a little compromise: some are allowed to function freely, in exchange for the useful information they provide which can be used by the group to target bigger fish.

But with the heady power to decide who will and will not go free, comes a great deal of corruption, Angel in particular developing a complex that combines belief in his own invincibility with a philosophy that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs – even innocent eggs, which might be the inevitable result of relying for your tips on junkies and pushers. However, when the war starts to have blowback on those close to the group, even Angel realizes things need to change before it hurts his loved ones.

While a solid story, there isn’t much new here, apart from the setting of late eighties Spain. We’ve seen these kinds of cops on the edge often enough: in the wake of this year’s events, it needs more than roughing up a couple of suspects to shock me as far as police transgressions go. Real life is not particularly the film’s fault, however, and the performances, which are solid, help sustain things when the workmanlike plot stumbles. I would like to have seen more attention paid to Angel’s slide from aspiring detective to bad lieutenant – it seems more than a little jarring when he suddenly switches into “the end justifies the means” mode.

There are likely too many threads going on as well, and the film doesn’t manage to keep all the balls in the air to equal effect. But it does a good job of balancing the action and the character-driven aspects, and the ending is a fitting one, sharing the ambiguous stance adopted by the rest of the film: if it may not perhaps be conclusive, it still has an air of authenticity to it.