Presented as the North American premiere of the movie, the screening of Toro during the Fantasia Film Festival was more crowded than I expected. The 2nd movie of Spanish director Kike Maillo is a fast-paced thriller that takes place in Andalucía pictured as a mix of violence, corruption, flamenco and religion.
Toro has had enough of his criminal life and informs his boss Rafael Romano, a Catholic fundamentalist and psychopathic criminal, of his decision. Rafael gives him one last job involving Toro’s two older brothers: Antonio and López. Unfortunately for them, police arrive on site, resulting in Antonio’s killing and Toro’s arrest, while López manages to escape.
Five years later, while Toro has almost finished his time in jail, López, with whom he cut the cord, resurfaces, asking for help. López is the brother from hell who can always be counted on to do the wrong thing. With his arrival, Toro’s new life as a cab driver and his being involved with a teacher (Estrella) is at stake. His niece Diana has been kidnapped and Toro decides that even bad blood is stronger than common sense and so makes what is probably the worst decision of his life.
After being rescued, Diana and the two brothers find themselves in a series of twists and turns, each of them excitingly staged as stand-alones, most of them based on implausibilities. Amongst them are how bad Romano’s bodyguards are at fighting and how quickly lottery tickets are spread across an entire region.
What I personally liked about the movie, being a thriller, was the frenetic rhythm and raw emotion. The brotherly love is stretched beyond breaking point. Yet the main character doesn’t hesitate to give a helping hand to his criminal brother and his niece. Toro’s determination and strength throughout the whole movie and especially after rescuing Diana and his girlfriend is impressive and inspiring.
The dialogues are short and to the point, making it clear that the director focused more on pictures as a way to tell the story. The editing was also satisfying.
All in all, with it being Maillo’s second movie and with the fine job of the cast, Toro is good entertainment that keeps its promises as a vibrant and tragic thriller.