Spain and Islamic North African sure have some history together, don’t they? Seville homicide inspector Javier Falcón still has close personal ties to the region. As a result, he has been recruited by the Spanish Feds to help run Yacub Diouri, an old friend who has gone undercover with a Moroccan Islamist terror group. Falcón recognizes signs of unusual stress in Diouri, but he is inconveniently distracted when the Russian mob strikes close to home in Manuel Gómez Pereira’s The Ignorance of Blood (trailer here), which releases today on DVD from Omnibus Entertainment.
Diouri has a complicated family tree. Somehow, he is the older half-brother of Dario Jimenez, the ten-ish-year-old son of Falcón’s widowed girlfriend Consuelo. Evidently, old man Jimenez got around. Diouri has his own son Abdula, who is about the same age as Dario. Much to Diouri’s distress, the group he is infiltrating has been radicalizing and recruiting his son through an uncle figure. Of course, at Abdula’s age that means only one thing: suicide bomber.
Unfortunately, Abdula is not the child most in jeopardy. During the course of his investigation into a civil war between rival Russian mob factions, young Jimenez is kidnapped. The ransom is the eight million Euros and a hard drive full of potential blackmail footage taken into evidence when a mobster defecting to the upstart splinter group had a rather untimely traffic accident.
If it matters, the Islamists come out of Blood looking slightly more psychotic and unsavory than the Russian syndicate, so let’s hear it for the “Thieves By Law.” Regardless, the hinge between the two narratives is sort of clever, but not in a way that does Falcón any favors. When it rains for the Inspector, it pours, but since this is Spain, it must fall mainly on the plain.
While Juan Diego Botto is not exactly an electric presence, his strong silent thing wears well on viewers over time. He establishes a comfort level as Falcón that will serve him well if the character goes to franchise. Paz Vega is perfectly adequate as the distraught mother, but it is not exactly the challenging sort of role actors long to sink their teeth into. By far, the most intriguing figure in the film is Diouri, whom Alberto San Juan fleshes out quite nicely. That whole bit about his secret affair with a closeted member of the Saudi royal family is definitely good character building detail.
Unfortunately, Nicolás Saad’s adaption of British mystery writer Robert Wilson’s novel often lacks clarity, particularly when it comes to the spider’s web of relationships connecting the characters. It is also impossible to tell the one Russian gangster from another. The absence of a colorful, catalyzing villain is a real shortcoming, but at least the various Macguffins are intriguing.