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Arts & Culture

Ladrn que Roba a Ladrn

Alejandro (Mexico's Fernando Colunga making his U.S. debut) and Emilio (Argentina's Miguel Varoni) are longtime friends and lifelong con men. They join forces to bring down the empire of self-made millionaire Moctesuma Valdez (Saul Lisazo). Moctesuma is a crook who puts a professional facade on all his scams. He's a master at selling worthless products to poor Latino immigrant through deceptive infomerials. He gives crooks a bad name and Emilio harbors a very personal reason for wanting to bring him down. Alejandro and Emilio gather up a crew and plan an intricate heist to clean out Moctesuma's vault while he's throwing a party in his own honor as businessman of the year.

Ladrn que Roba a Ladrn (Lionsgate)

I find the new Ocean's films (at least two-thirds of them) frothy and bland concoctions so I got far more enjoyment out of this low budget and unpretentious caper than those mega-budget Hollywood star vehicles. I got raked over the coals for daring to condemn the most recent Ocean's 13 and will gladly risk that fate again by stating my preference for Ladrn. Directed by Joe Menendez, the New York born son of Cuban exiles, Ladrn is slight and silly, and plays happily within its limitations. The con game is clever without being unnecessarily complicated, and Menendez keeps the proceeding moving at a crisp pace. No bloat here.


The film employs TV and telenovela stars, and the production values are those of a slick TV movie of the week. The men are a hunky lot and look like they just walked out of either a tanning salon or gym. The women are equally easy on the eyes and in a film where appearances are so important, the performers are almost like set dressing making the film pretty to look at. The attractive ensemble also proves quite likable in roles that are essentially one-dimensional. Saul Lisazo, however, is the one lead who delivers an unapologetically unappealing character. His Moctesuma is a slimy customer who deserves his fate. And despite the slick surfaces, Menendez invests his caper with a pleasing amount of heart.

Ladrn que Roba a Ladrn (unrated and in Spanish with English subtitles) is appealing if rather unexceptional formula fare. But it's interesting to see a U.S. made film shot in a foreign language and receiving distribution.

Companion viewing: El Crimen Perfecto , The Sting, The Heist