Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 June 2006


Secuestro Express

Directed by Jonathon Jakubowicz

One of the most controversial films in Venezuela in many years, Secuestro Express was made by a director who is rumoured to support reactionary opposition parties in the country. The vice-president of Venezuela has criticised this film for glorifying "everything that is base in society". Its supporters say it gives a graphic and realistic description of the division between rich and poor.

Kevin Simpson

This is one of the most violent films I have seen in my life. Is Jakubowicz a Latin American Tarantino as some of the more pompous critics describe him? Not a chance on the basis of this film. Tarantino's films have an air of fantasy about them, which partially takes the edge off the blood and gore. However, this film starts brutally and gets more so with each scene.

The film opens with a panoramic view of the capital city, Caracas. The ranchos cling to the hills around the city, shacks packed on top of each other, perched on hilltops seemingly threatening to overwhelm the skyscrapers and more affluent buildings towards the city centre. These scenes are an allegory of what happens next.

A rich couple's night of hedonistic clubbing is overcome by a kidnapping gang from the ranchos. Carla and Martin are taken by their kidnappers after leaving the night club in order to demand ransom from their parents - portrayed as arrogant members of the elite whose lives in luxury are shattered by their children's capture.

Some of the scenes are beyond belief. At one stage, Martin is forced out of the car by his captors to withdraw money from an ATM machine in a back alley. Another gangster attempts to rob him and gets shot dead by Martin's kidnapper who says "He is mine"!

The gang hauls the two kidnap victims around the city, dropping off to buy drugs and expensive Rolex watches. They finally hole up in a city centre skyscraper to negotiate the ransom of between $20 - $40,000 - a small amount for rich parents but equivalent to years of income for someone from the ranchos. There is no halt to the spiralling violence at any moment in the film.

The curiosity which has led to it breaking box office records in Venezuela is probably partially media-inspired but also because it provides an opportunity for Venezuelans to see the rich parasites in their society receive rough justice.


In reality the Chavez regime has little to be nervous about this film; it is the Venezuelan super-rich, who travel around the city in SUVs and helicopters, that should feel decidedly twitchy about it.

This soulless film glorifies gratuitous violence of all kinds. When it does make worthwhile comment on the huge gulf between rich and poor, this is largely swamped in an orgy of gunshots, breaking bones or drug-induced verbal outpourings.

Critics' comparisons between Secuestro Express and City of God (about life in the Brazilian favelas) are completely incorrect. The latter film, while realistically portraying the struggle for survival and violence in the ranchos, is set against a background that allows the viewer to draw conclusions about the wider social context of the individual stories portrayed there.

In Secuestro Express, one of the main conclusions the viewer is forced to draw is that the only response of the poor to grinding poverty and semi-starvation is to turn to violent crime. This is what makes this film reactionary and wide of the mark - especially in Venezuela, which has seen massive mobilisations of the working class in defence of their conditions and mass politicisation.

Towards the movie's violent end, Carla complains to one of her kidnappers: "I work in a hospital and help the poor every day and you treat me like this". Her captor replies: "When half the city is knee-deep in shit and you're rolling around in an expensive car, how do you expect them not to hate you?"

But farce then overtakes this glimpse of realism when the same kidnapper pays over his share of the ransom to his two partners to ensure that Carla is released without being shot dead. And given the brutality of the characters, farce is transformed into a charade when the same kidnapper comes back to save Carla from certain death at the hands of corrupt police who pretend to rescue her at the sight of her release.

Should you go and see it? Well, if that's the kind of thing you like then go ahead. But beware - you have been warned!


Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 22 June 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS cuts... closures... privatisation... We're fighting back!

Fight the cuts in community services

Socialist Party youth and students

Fight Low Pay

Socialist Students receive standing ovation

Socialist Party feature

US 'empire' in crisis

Socialist Party campaigns

Community protests at trigger-happy policing

Arise...Sir tax-avoider!

Labour defeated over schools and pool...

Battle of the Thatcherites!

Football: A high price for the beautiful game

Socialist Party review

1926 General Strike: workers taste power

Secuestro Express

Socialist Party LGBT

Putting the politics into Pride

International socialist news and analysis

Socialists oppose the war in Sri Lanka

Soweto uprising 1976: The powder keg ignites

Socialist Party workplace news

Brown attacks public sector workers

Anger at inept handling of pensions dispute


Home   |   The Socialist 22 June 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleAristocrats are rich after all... and getting richer

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTake the wealth off the super-rich

triangleYouth strikes show the way - mass action can oust Tories

triangleBillionaires avoid paying and even talking about tax! Take the wealth off the 1%


triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Lessons from Venezuela for Corbyn

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Venezuela - the fight for genuine socialism

triangleEast London Socialist Party: What's happening in Venezuela?

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Venezuela - for a real socialist alternative to corruption and imperialism

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



The Socialist Inbox


George Monbiot

TV Review: Apocalypse Cow



Sustainable food production and the need for socialism



The Socialist Inbox


Socialist Party

The Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019



Plymouth Blairites side with anti-tenant landlords


Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate



The private sector will never provide broadband to every home, nationalisation will



The Socialist Inbox



Theatre: On Bear Ridge - an examination of loss, set in a post-apocalyptic world


Social Media

Readers' opinion: Twitter's banning of political ads threatens workers' voice


Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate: what should we be demanding?



TV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism



The Socialist inbox



TV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

January 2020