Toro: a Spanish mafia movie that tangos with danger
A young man named Toro (“Bull”) lived the life of a mobster at the right side of Don Romano in Torremolinos, Málaga (Andalusia, south to Spain), but now he wants out to live a life free of crime. Before he cashes out, he does a last mission for Romano alongside his brothers, but things go south, resulting in the death of one of his brothers and him being arrested and incarcerated. Five years later, Toro lives a legal life while still serving time in an open prison regiment, he has a stable job, a girlfriend, Estrella, and things seem to work out for him, until he’s visited by his older brother, seeking for help. Toro’s brother, López, had his daughter, Diana, kidnapped from him by Romano, who suspects him of stealing money from his tourism business. López begs his brother for help in getting the money he owes, but Toro decides that a better alternative would be to go and speak to the Don, to sort things out. Toro ends up beating Romano’s men and fleeing with Diana and his brother. Romano puts a bounty on their head and starts an adrenaline-filled search for the three, meanwhile Toro anxiously counts the hours to get back to prison before 10 P.M.
“Toro” is a Spanish movie, set in contemporary times and I’ll say right off the bat that it’s decent, it’s watchable, even for the most exigent mafia movie enthusiasts. This drama, crime, thriller movie is no Godfather or Donnie Brasco, and it never claimed to be. It’s an action-filled movie with a light story, that’s suited for all ages, although, parental guidance is advised for minors.
The action takes place in Spain and to maintain coherency and veracity, the original audio is also in Spanish, which I find suiting. I recommend watching the movie with subtitles and not dubbed. The original language is very important because it sets the mood, it brings the spectator into their world, a typical Spanish city, south of the country. It’s also fun to watch it with subtitles because it shows the similarities between English and Spanish, more so with other romantic languages.
The soundtrack, the panoramas and the 3D art shown with the credits (at the beginning) are well made and with the right speakers it can give you goose bumps.
For a budget of €4.000.000 and a run time of 105 minutes, this movie succeeds in delivering a good, romanticized, condensed mafia story, with all it clichés that we all love. The acting is great, great as in it never throws you out of the atmosphere, there are no major flaws that could make you cringe and regret buying it. The actors act naturally, even if their reactions are speeded up due to the speedy nature of an hour and a half movie and because of this, the film also uses many narrative expedients that can look like implausible actions, such as carjacking a modern car within seconds, or fighting bare handed and beating a couple of armed police officers.
The protagonists are typified but their intricate relationships and behaviors are original. The Don is portrayed as the classical, hard Sicilian Don, revered by the Catholic Church and its community, obsessed with power, money and control, the last characteristic is immediately proven by a scene in which he goes to a Tarot card reader that predicts his future and presents the premise of the movie.
The two brothers have different personalities, Toro is more serious, while López is goofier. Their personalities seem to match their appearances. The two brothers clearly love each other but maintain a constant adversity towards one another, more so coming from Toro, the reason is explained at the beginning and the spectator will more than likely side with Toro.
López’s daughter, Diana, has a very strong, boyish personality, sometimes aiding the two in their quest to escape the Don. Her personality also reflects in her appearance. Her unique cuteness will compel the viewer to root for their escape.
The motion picture is very artsy and pays a lot of attention to mafia symbols, Christian and pagan mysticism, physiognomic portraits, and urban architecture, that’s why I strongly recommend watching it in high definition. Also, the weapons used in the movie are very unique, rarely used in this genre.
All in all this is a good movie, the level of violence is medium, much lower than other well-renown mafia movies and there’s some incidental nudity. This film will be particularly interesting for foreigners or people that never visited Spain because it gives the opportunity to see a small, urban, Spanish city. The motorcycle stunts and car chances are well made, filmed in central urban areas, with minimal special effects. The film balances successfully adrenaline, suspense, and emotional drama alongside an easy to follow narrative line.