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Venevision International presents
Equis (X) (2002)

Javier: Looks like a real mess.
Santiago: Well, the easiest cases always look like this at the start.

- Antonio Resines, Pere ArquilluŽ

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: September 30, 2005

Stars: Antonio Resines
Other Stars: Mar’a Ad‡nez, Esperanza Roy, Manuel Geliana, Marta Belaustegui, Pere ArquilluŽ, Antonio Dechent, Paco Hidalgo, Joaqu’n Notario, Paco Hern‡ndez, Sandra Toral, Janfri Topera
Director: Luis Marías

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:34m:16s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-D+C+ D

DVD Review

Homicide detective Javier Abad (Antonio Resines) awakens, next to an unknown woman in a strange room, with a sore shoulder and severe hangover. Staggering to his car, he has no recollection of the night before, but the salon across the street catches his eye. He ponders about it, notices a bum staring at him, and decides to leave. Inside his car Javier finds a red bag and scissors saturated in blood. Not knowing what to make of them, he hides them and returns home to his pregnant wife, Bea (Marta Belaustegui). Later that same day, Javier finds himself being called to the scene of a murder at the very same salon. Could he be the murderer?

The setup for Luis Marías' Equis (X) unfolds slowly in its opening minutes, with almost ten minutes passing before Javier even says a word. All the essential pieces to the puzzle are introduced subtly and the rest of the film is devoted to solving them alongside Javier. A blistering heat wave fogs his mind as he tries to solve the case without letting his associate, Santiago (Pere Arquillué), in on any of the details. The pieces keep piling up against Javier, though, with witnesses telling Santiago that they saw him at the scene of the crime. The murder victim was a homosexual and Javier's bigoted behavior in the past makes him all the more likely to have killed the man. But, digging deeper into the mystery of that forgotten night, he learns that the victim and his sister, Alicia (María Adánez), were mixed up in some money scam. Thus, Javier needs to discover if he is truly the culprit or if somebody else is framing him and stole the money.

The story is fairly ingenious, if not all together profound. Unlike great mystery stories, such as Chinatown, the script is not attempting to reveal some prolific truth about human nature. The action of the plot is all directed towards a well-crafted thriller, meant to keep the audience in the dark. On this level, Equis is a total success because the character of Javier is clearly a loose cannon. We bare witness to his violent interrogation methods and his willingness to lie left me with no doubt that, under the influence of alcohol, he would murder another person. Yet, the evidence isn't conclusive enough to make him obviously the killer. Director Marías makes good use of the script, which he also wrote, by employing many overtly symbolic images—not least of which is the salon's name, X, that resembles the position of the bloodstained scissors—and never allowing the audience to get ahead of Javier's investigation. I would have liked a bit more suspense, especially towards the climax, but the mystery never left me feeling bored.

Intricate to the success of the film is Antonio Resines' performance as Javier, which he steps into nicely. There's a genuine level of complexity to his performance, giving a depth to Javier that invests the audience in his plight. With another actor, Javier's shattered marriage and failing career might play as a distraction, but he makes the seem intricate to the mystery. You can practically smell the sweat running down Resines' forehead and he possesses a strong physical presence when interacting with the other cast members. María Adánez is also effective as Alicia, bringing some complexity to her role as the crippled sister of the victim. The two play well off of one another, especially regarding sexual tension, and the conclusion is all the more effective because of it.

Equis does not pretend to be anything more than a thriller, which makes it an effective ride. With its intriguing premise and elegant performances, it supplies a steady dose of mystery and some nice human drama.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer contains numerous print defects and a surprising amount of artifacting. There's also a good amount of grain and none of the colors are vibrant. Furthermore, detail is only average and the picture has an unpleasant video feel to it.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is not especially entrancing, either. Played in Pro Logic, sound separation and directionality happen rarely and the surround speakers only kick in for the musical score. However, it is a clean mix and well-balanced overall.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring School Killer, The Stoneraft
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Alas, my decision to take German in high school and college has come back to haunt me once again! The DVD contains a Behind-the-Scenes Documentary (17m:26s) in which the audio is in Spanish and without subtitles. Thus, I have no idea if it is good or bad, though I suspect that it would be worth watching for those who can understand Spanish. What I can say about it is this: there's lots of footage from the set and various cast and crew members discuss...well, they discuss something that I assume relates to their work. In addition to the documentary, the original theatrical trailers for Equis, School Killer, and The Stoneraft are all included in nonanamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen. Each is in Spanish and again no subtitles are available—though with the level of blood and gratuitous nudity in School Killer's trailer, I don't think anybody who sees it will really care about the dialogue.

I'm not really sure what grade to give these extras, though I am knocking it down a few notched due to the fact that Venevision did not make them accessible to non-Spanish speakers.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

It's more of an exercise in style than substance, but Equis (X) is a solid outing for its cast and crew. The DVD is not as stellar, though, with only marginal transfers and extras.


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