A tightly wound hostage thriller that boasts a commanding lead performance from Tim Roth, 600 Miles is a gritty and authentic portrait of weapon smuggling in Mexico and an auspicious debut for director Gabriel Ripstein.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Placing us in the passenger seat of a southbound SUV opposite a nervy young Mexican weapons smuggler, this tightly coiled hostage thriller leaves a slow burn of palpable suspense and tacit political observation. Tim Roth excels as an American ATF agent who finds the tables turned on him when he’s abducted by the adolescent gun-runner after a botched attempt to arrest him. What results is a terse, sparingly scripted road movie that’s geared in shifting power dynamics and acute characterisation, all the while channelling an authenticity that slyly demythologises crime film traditions. Mounting dread at a deliberate pace, only to punctuate it with sudden eruptions of jarring violence, first-timer Gabriel Ripstein reveals a budding talent of supreme assurance – fully endorsed by the jury at Berlin, where Ripstein received the award for Best First Film earlier this year. — JF
“Following in the gritty-realism tradition of Maria Full of Grace, while acknowledging that the illicit traffic flows both ways – in this case, from north to south – 600 Miles tackles an issue that’s gotten considerably less exposure in the news for the simple fact that Americans don’t seem to care that the corruption and violence so widespread in Mexico today is being carried out with weapons manufactured on US soil… While not quite as austere or upsetting as fellow Mexican Amat Escalante’s Heli, the film serves as a comparable corrective to bombastic Hollywood portrayals of south-of-the- border criminal activity.” — Peter Debruge, Variety