Bus 174

"Essential"

Bus 174 Review


In the movies, hostage situations are a surefire way to guarantee suspense and drama. And while there are always moments of tension (usually of the "will he/won't he kill them?" variety), the vast majority of the time the situation is resolved neatly, the hostage-taker down with a bullet between the eyes (or just led away in handcuffs if he's a criminal with a good heart). But, as the real-life hostage-taker in the absolutely riveting documentary, Bus 174, keeps shouting to police, "This ain't no action movie!"

In the summer of 2000, Sandro de Nascimento, a 22 year-old street kid living in Rio de Janeiro, boarded a bus waving a gun and demanding everyone's money. What should have been a fast grab-and-run to fuel Sandro's prodigious cocaine habit quickly deteriorated into a hostage situation that started out badly and kept getting worse.

The cameras were there almost before the cops, allowing the entire event to unfold live on Brazilian TV. The cops that show up at the scene are useless. They stand around like spectators, allowing journalists and gawkers to wander practically right up to the parked bus. At one point, viewers even see a man blithely bicycle past no more than a few dozen feet from the scene. This brazen incompetence continues throughout the day, lessening only somewhat after the slightly more professional Rio SWAT team arrive. The whole situation brings to mind the hapless blunders of the Munich Olympics hostage situation captured in One Day in September. The police are so ill-equipped they don't even have radios.

Directors Felipe Lacerda and José Padilha use generous amounts of the live TV footage to tell their tale, interspersing it - more so in the beginning, less so later on when things begin to build to a climax - with talking-head interviews with cops who were involved, Sandro's family members and friends, and others. At first, not much of the actual crime is shown, though we see Sandro stalking back and forth inside the bus, wrapping a towel around his head, putting sunglasses on and trying to get one of the hostages to drive the bus. Bus 174 builds Sandro's past with exacting care, contrasting his horrible life with hauntingly gorgeous aerial shots over Rio.

Sandro was raised in a Rio slum where, at the age of 10, he watched as three knife-wielding men butchered his mother. Although his aunt (who was interviewed for the film) took him in, Sandro soon ran away and became one of the thousands of street kids thronging Rio. He was one of the kids who survived the infamous Candelária massacre in 1992 - eight of Sandro's friends were gunned down in cold blood by the police - a fact that Sandro cannot stop repeating to the cops surrounding the bus. Stints in juvenile detention and prison, mixed with petty crime and the brain-addling glue sniffing that's de rigeur for Rio street kids, constitute the rest of Sandro's life, up to the bus incident.

While the film is effortlessly dramatic, Lacerda and Padilha also managed to create a work of spectacularly insightful social reportage. Just as Sandro's life and environment are dissected, so are all other aspects of the event, from the hostages, to police tactics and mistakes (told by a cop hooded for protection), and the life of street kids (related by a kid who talks blithely of slashing cop's throats and setting robbery victims on fire). Commentary by a rather windy sociologist is less effective. Although he speaks eloquently of the fatal invisibility of those like Sandro, his remarks are rather obvious in light of more direct testimony captured elsewhere in the film.

When Bus 174 builds to its conclusion, it's like a runaway train, something unstoppable and terrifying. Although Lacerda and Padilha have by that point given every reason for viewers to understand Sandro's predicament, they never stoop to taking sides, managing somehow to point the finger at all the right people - the police, the media, a city that would rather see these children dead than help them - without negating Sandro's culpability. The final scenes, as police snipers miss every opportunity to take Sandro down, as the media creeps closer, and the hostages play out fake dramas for the cameras under Sandro's orders, constitute some of the most powerful images ever filmed.

In the end, it isn't an action movie, and it isn't just another true-crime documentary; Bus 174 stands alone as a cold, sad requiem for a generation of the lost.

The DVD includes a few deleted interviews and a making-of short.

Aka Ônibus 174.

Ain't no trip to Cleveland.



Bus 174

Facts and Figures

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 30th August 2003

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $217.2 thousand

Distributed by: ThinkFilm Inc

Production compaines: Zazen Produções

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Fresh: 75 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Felipe Lacerda, José Padilha

Producer: José Padilha, Rodrigo Pimentel, Marcos Prado

Starring: Yvonne Bezerra de Mello as Herself, Sandro do Nascimento as Himself, Rodrigo Pimentel as Himself, Luiz Eduardo Soares as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.