Alejandro Lozano’s “Matando Cabos” is violent, vulgar, disgusting and incredibly funny. Taking dark violence and crime to a fast-paced farcical level reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s attempt in “Snatch,” the film plays like an old sex comedy with the justice removed and political commentary and myriad ways to injure people added. It’s a combination of Quentin Tarantino, Preston Sturges, Luis Bunuel and Vittorio De Sica.
Plus there’s a musical number.
Simply put, the film is an extremely funny, skillfully plotted and cleverly directed comedy. While anyone can whip together some second-rate quirky criminal dialogue, it takes a certain genius on the part of writer/director Lozano and screenplay collaborators and stars Tony Dalton and Kristoff to come up with some of the bizarre situations. The funniest plot line involves a group of kidnappers who try to call in a ransom but fail because…well, they can’t get the damn victim’s wife on the phone to tell her their demands.
To attempt to describe the plot would be a foolish waste of thousands of words. The story constantly folds in on itself with surprising developments and subplots that turn out to be more important than expected. It begins as two young businessmen talk to each other from neighboring toilet stalls about a rich man named Oscar Cabos, who, it turns out, is in the third stall, unconscious. Known for burning, golf-clubbing or otherwise injuring people who offend him, Cabos accidentally knocked himself out (although not according to his own voiceover describing things) and Jaque (Dalton) and Mudo (Kristoff) have no choice but to kidnap him while they figure out what to do. Meanwhile, another group of kidnappers, this fully aware of (their planned) actions, embark on their own capture of Cabos. The resulting controlled chaos is a gloriously overstuffed whirl of birds that won’t stop chirping, volatile retired wrestlers and car chases through baseball stadium parking garages. Lozano has plenty of time to show off, and does so with various cool shots, clever use of soundtracks and a sequence in which he recreates a trashy TV news magazine celebrity biography. He may not get all the laughs he tries for, but still gets more than most modern comedies.
Beneath the surface, the film looks at a system in Mexico City in which the good are often punished and mean, wealthy people get away with whatever they please. Without the comic spirit, the film could have been dreary realism about a corrupt city damaged by crime and financial disparity. Lozano makes us laugh, then he makes us consider the implications of what we’ve laughed at. “Matando Cabos” is a dirty good time, a hilarious tragedy that paints smiles on the sad human condition.