Lazaro Cano (Chris Corea) doesn’t sound nearly as menacing as his nickname, “Diablo.” And when you’re in the assassination business like he is, you’d better have a nickname with some bite to it. Born into Communist Cuba, Diablo tells us by way of voice-over how he learned his lethal art in Angola and practiced if further in Moscow before returning to Cuba. Now residing in Miami, he coolly performs his hit man tasks for his boss Efrain Carrillo (Miguel Nin) until the boss calls him into the office one day. It seems Carrillo’s sexy young girlfriend Emily Felin (Elizabeth Hernandez) has disappeared and the old man wants Diablo to “find” her. Just another job…except that Diablo and Emily have been carrying on behind Carrillo’s back for years. Certain that Carrillo knows of this, Diablo faces a cruel choice between displaying deadly loyalty to the boss or honoring the love of a beautiful woman; a decision that will demonstrate if the Devil has a soul or at least a conscience.
This is a fine, moody film from Rafæl Falcon. Cinematographer Humberto Gutierrez makes sure that the viewer knows the film is in Miami, imbuing “Diablo” with more neon and color tinting than a season’s worth of “Miami Vice.” As a result, the film is exceptionally pleasant to look at, at least in its less violent moments. Falcon must have felt so as well, judging by the languid pace at which he lets events unfold. This is especially true for the first half of the film; a full eight minutes passing by, for instance, before the first word of voice-over.
Even so, Falcon takes a fairly conventional character study of a Cuban hit-man and gives it a darkly romantic, if determinedly grim life of its own.