TRANSPECOS (2016) is a tense, superbly acted, and beautifully shot thriller, though a bit empty on message.
It’s a typical day at a lonely, infrequently used border crossing between the United States and Mexico. At this post, three U.S. Border Patrol agents spend their shift horsing around, hassling travelers out of sheer boredom, telling stories, and looking forward to going home. Then a car appears that will change everything, reveal a plot within their ranks, and possibly cost them their lives within the next 24 hours.
I’m not sure where I got by the end, but I loved getting there. Gabriel Luna, Johnny Simmons, and Clifton Collins, Jr. are all terrific in their roles as the Border Patrol guys, representing three very different moral codes. I liked the characters, grit, and conflict enough to become invested in what happens. As for the central conflict, it’s big, believable, and even though you know it’s coming, surprising. The desert offers a lonely and beautiful setting for every scene, making the film a modern Western. It’s not as epic or tense as SICARIO, but one could make a comparison.
On the downside, the last act runs away from the story to ramp things up to an ending that seems to convey some sort of message that carries moral heft, though it was lost on me. I’m just not sure what the film was trying to say. Here, the comparison with SICARIO becomes contrast. But that’s just for me, you may love it.
So overall, I enjoyed the ride even though I wasn’t sure where it took me.