Intacto (2001)

Rating: B-

Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Star: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Monica Lopez, Max Von Sydow

The concept of luck as an actual force that can be transferred between people is the central concept in this precursor to William H. Macy’s upcoming The Cooler. The characters in both are capable of draining away other people’s luck; here, this spins off into a dark underworld of gambling. The stakes are houses, cars or even photos of people, the camera somehow absorbing their good fortune too – explanations are not this movie’s forte… Tomas (Sbaraglia), sole survivor of a plane crash, is ‘adopted’ by Federico (Poncela), who realises Tomas’ ability, and desires revenge on Sam (Von Sydow), the casino owner who stole Federico’s luck. But Tomas is wanted by the police, led by Sara (Lopez), a cop with luck-sucking talents of her own.

It’s an interesting world, though the games these people play seem more like exercises in cinematic style. For example, one involves molasses and a CGI giant insect. What’s wrong with Ludo? It’s all very cold, too, with not much reason to like or relate to the characters, save Sam’s monologue about how, as a child in a concentration camp, he realised how lucky he was. That scene leaves the viewer’s sympathies divided for the final game of Russian Roulette – with five bullets, not one – between Sam and Tomas. Such moral ambivalence is a good thing in real life; at the movies, it works less well, though overall, this remains a thought-provoking look at fate.