The Paramedic – (Netflix) review

Brief synopsis: a narcissistic paramedic, who is struggling to have a child with his partner, life is changed when he is in a tragic traffic accident that results in him ending up in a wheelchair. Jealously and paranoia see him acting in a most dangerous and unpredictable fashion. 

Is it any good?: The Paramedic (El Practicante – in Spanish, original title), is a moderately entertaining chiller that is let down a little by being more atmosphere than execution. The acting is top class and the film looks beautiful and the story and editing are done in such a way not to insult the audience intelligence but, unfortunately, other elements of the film do not live up to the promise. 

Spoiler territory: arriving at the scene of a car crash, paramedics Ángel (Mario Casas) and Ricardo (Guillermo Pfening) tend quickly to the wounded and distressed. As Ángel helps a woman from the wreckage of her car, Ricardo goes to check on the passengers of the other car which is flipped on its roof. 

As other paramedics arrive to help, Ángel uses the confusion and activity to steal a pair of sunglasses from one of the cars in the crash. Later, Ángel is aggressively making love to his girlfriend, Vane (Déborah François), before she leaves for work. After she leaves, he goes and hides the sunglasses he took from the scene of the crash in a cupboard. 

Back at work, Ángel and Ricardo take a call. When they arrive at the address, they find an old woman in bed. Ricardo checks her pulse. She is already dead. He calls the coroner, leaving the room as he makes the call. Ángel goes through the woman’s valuables in the room. 

Later, Ángel meets Fermín (Raúl Jiminéz) and looks to sell the items he found in the room. He returns home and is in a foul mood after stepping in the mess created by their neighbour, Vicente’s (Celso Bagallo) dog. Vane tells him that her period has come, meaning she is not pregnant. He suggests she see a gynaecologist. Vane says the problem might not be with her. Ángel, his manhood wounded, says the problem could be psychological. 

He goes to see a doctor the next day. He finds out that he has a low sperm count and getting someone pregnant would be difficult for him. He does not tell Vane. Back at home, whilst Vane is in the shower, Ángel goes through her phone. 

At the hospital, Ángel gets drugs from Andrés (Pol Monen), a young doctor he knows. He and Ricardo go to another accident. They pick up an injured young man and Ricardo is driving as Ángel tends to the man. The man begins to convulse, distracting Ricardo. As Ángel tries to stabilise him, the ambulance gets hit by a truck. 

Ángel ends up wheelchair-bound. Their relationship already strained, Ángel’s condition pushes his jealously and paranoia to another level. As he tries to adapt to his need life, Ángel comes across a spy app that he can use to track Vane. The relationship continues to be strained. 

Ricardo comes to visit Ángel. Ángel is not happy to see him, feeling that it is his fault that he is in a wheelchair. Later, before Vane leave for work, Ángel asks her to go and get him some ice cream. Whilst she is out, he installs the spy app on her phone. 

He bumps into his neighbour, Vicente. Vicente is walking his dog. Ángel remarks how much the dog barks at night. Vicente tells him that he goes to see his sick wife in hospital at night and has to leave the dog alone. Later, in the evening, Vane is nervous as she tells Ángel about a possible work placement. 

Ángel wants to know what they will live on if she is earning less. He is not at all supportive of her pursuit of a veterinary career. Vane goes to work. He uses the spyware to watch her at work. During there night, Ángel is awoken by pain from his injuries. He tries to call Vane but the calls go to her voicemail. 

He finds some painkillers in the kitchen and takes a couple. He hides the rest of them. When Vane returns from work in the morning, he accuses her of leaving him without pain medication. She swears that there were painkillers in the kitchen. Later in the day, he threads needles into a raw piece of meat. 

Ángel goes to the park where Vicente walks his dog. He feeds the meat to the dog. Back in the apartment, Ángel listens in on a conversation Vane is having with a friend. She tells her friend how difficult her relationship is becoming and how she is not sure she can stand much more. Spurred by the conversation, Ángel tries to woo Vane and cooks a romantic dinner for them both. 

He tells her that he will support her dream of becoming a vet. They will also try even harder to have a baby. They make love. Afterwards, Ángel is in the shower and Vane hears his computer chiming. She goes and checks his screen and discovers the spyware. She packs her belongings and leaves. 

Some months later, Ángel decides to go and spy on Vane again. He waits outside of her workplace and sees Ricardo come to pick her up. He follows them and sees them go to a baby shop. They are having a baby. ÁNGEL goes to see Andres and gets some drugs. 

The next day, Ángel goes to meet Vane. He tells her she was right to leave him and intimates that he is going to end his life. She walks him back to his apartment. Retells her that he packed up her belongings and she can collect them. As she is distracted, looking for her things, he tranquillises her. 

Vane wakes up tied to a bed and gagged. Ángel puts on loud music to drown out her muffled cries. He goes and finds her mobile. She has multiple messages from Ricardo on it. He texts Ricardo a message from the phone telling him that she has left him. He throws the phone into a river. Back in the apartment, Ángel tells Vane he saw Ricardo and knows they are having a child. She begs him to release her and starts screaming again. He gags her and tranquillises her again. 

Vicente comes and complains about the music. Ángel gives him short shrift, telling him he had to put up with his dog for months. Vicente says he heard screaming from his apartment. Ángel lies, saying it was a prostitute. 

Ricardo seeks out Ángel. He tells him that Vane is missing and that they are together. Ángel tells him he has not seen her. Back with Vane, she finds that Ángel has given her an epidural making her legs stop working. Ángel receives a voicemail from a desperate Ricardo. He is going to call the police. 

During dinner, Vane smashes a bottle into Ángel’s head and tries to escape, screaming for help. He recovers and tranquillises her again but not before her screaming alerts Vicente. The neighbour comes looking for her. Forced to allow the persistent Vicente into his home, Ángel stabs him to death. He calls Fermin and pays him to get rid of the body. 

The police come to see Ángel. Ricardo has reported Vane missing and he used to live with her. Ángel tells them that she told him she was returning to France. Ángel had used Vane’s keys to go and kill Ricardo, making it look like a drug-related death. 

Ángel continues to plan a life with Vane and Ricardo’s baby, going so far as to tell her he will marry her when he trusts her. Vane gets hold of nail clippers whilst in the bathroom. Later in the night, Ángel goes to the pharmacy to get some medication for Vane, thinking she is sick. She takes the opportunity to escape her bonds using the nail clippers. 

Her legs still weakened from the drugs, she struggles to get out of the room he has her locked in, dragging her self to the door and using a screwdriver to break the lock. She gets out of the apartment and is making her way out when Ángel returns. Vane stumbles to the stairs and falls down them. Ángel goes after her, throw himself down the stairs. The two fight. She stabs him with the screwdriver and pushes him into the stairwell. He falls several storeys, to the ground. 

Sometime later, a tetraplegic Ángel is in a hospital. A heavily pregnant Vane comes to get him. She tells him, somewhat chillingly, that she is going to look after him. The end. 

Final thoughts: The Paramedic is an okay chiller mostly because of Casas’ central performance. He oozes unease throughout the entire film, an air of disdain for all around him never far from his face. François’ Vane is perfectly cast, a woman in the wrong relationship even before the accident pushes Ángel further into his neurosis. 

Written by David Desola, Héctor Hernández Vicens and Carles Torras, with Torras also on directing duties, The Paramedic does at least treat its viewers like adults. After the accident, we move straight to the difficulties of Ángel’s new reality. There are no scenes of him being told he is not going to walk again or discovering he has to give up his work. They are not necessary. 

Torras lets the actors do the work and they reward him with great performances. The strength of Cosas’ performance certainly helps with covering the script’s deficiencies and shortcomings, with some characters not given enough screen time to allow one to realise their necessity to the plot. 

The film does move quite quickly through its ninety-four-minute runtime and the sense of foreboding builds quite nicely as Ángel implements his mad plan. The only thing that lets the film down is the slightly psychological ending, with Vane deciding to become a sort of jailer/helper for the tetraplegic Ángel. It seemed, to me at least, as though she was setting herself up for a lifetime of punishment. With an impending birth as well to contend with. 

The Paramedic is, nonetheless, quite entertaining and well made. It worth a watch for the two central performances and the almost great story. 

6 Underground – review (Netflix)

A tech billionaire (Ryan Reynolds) decides to fake his death and assembles a team, all of whom are believed to be dead, to combat tyrants who are above the law. Using his vast resources, he recruits five people to join him. He insists that they all address one another by numbers to maintain anonymity. He is to be known as One.

When on a mission in Italy Six (Dave Franco) is killed during a car chase. One is forced to recruit another to the group, Seven (Corey Hawkins). He prevents Seven from committing suicide and persuades him to join his cause. After attending his own funeral, Seven meets the other members of the group. Two (Mélanie Laurent) is an ex-CIA operative. Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) a former hitman. Four (Ben Hardy) a thief and parkour athlete and Five (Adria Arjona), a doctor.

In One’s former life, he had visited Turgistan on a peace mission. A blasé One moves around the mission barely listening to the missionaries as they tell him about the problems they face, telling his assistant to write a cheque. When the mission gets targeted by military jets dropping gas on the camp. One decides to go after the man who is responsible, dictator Rovach Alimov (Lior Raz).

Four years later, with the crew assembled, One plans to replace Rovach with his estranged brother, Murat (Payman Maadi), who has a more utopian outlook for his country and, in One’s estimation, would be a more benevolent leader.

6 Underground seems to be director, Michael ‘blow it up!’ Bay’s version of the eighties George Peppard/Mister T television classic, The A-Team. Written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, 6 Underground is two-plus hours of noisy hokum, Bay style. All of Bay’s signatures are used: teal and orange – check. Hero shot – check. Ludicrous car chase – check. Loud explosions – check. A bewildering amount of edits – check. It is all there on the screen in a film that is style over the very little substance the film has.

Make no mistake this film is as bad as that other ensemble piece of some years back, 2010’s The Losers, 6 Underground is light on plot or believability. Not that that is a problem necessarily in an action, shoot-em-up flick such as this is but one really does not care about anyone or anything in the film.

Ryan Reynolds channels his best Ryan Reynolds, quipping his way through proceedings and wearing his Chuck Norris beard well. Hawkins’ Seven is introduced to try and give the film some heart and somebody to care about. It partly works but the overall premise of them being ‘ghost’, having faked their deaths to join Reynolds’ One on his mission, is horribly weak.

None of the group seems to have a compelling reason to leave all they know behind and go gung-ho on ‘bad’ people whom One identifies as needing to be taken down a peg. One’s reasoning for deciding to create the band of mercenaries seems to be more of a Batman fantasy rather than a noble venture. He simply had run out of things to spend his billions on.

The acting is fine, such as it is. Not that it is really required, the dialogue, some of which is particularly woeful, is only there to link action scenes. Unfortunately, it does not do so with any of the panache of the John Wick films that similarly prioritise action over talking.

Raz’s Rovach is pure pantomime villain, killing his would-be generals in one scene because they were the ones who stood to gain the most from the removal of his original generals after they had been killed by One and his crew. Maadi’s Murat is probably the best character, bringing some levity and fearfulness to proceedings.

6 Underground is not for the squeamish. It is extremely violent, with blood in abundance, exploding and severed heads and limbs and brutal beatings handed out liberally throughout the film. The frenetic nature of the editing and the slightly over-lit picture does at times make it difficult to understand what is going on or who is chasing whom.

With an estimated budget of one hundred and fifty million dollars and a runtime of some two hours and nine minutes, 6 Underground is an expensive waste of talent. It is at least twenty minutes to a half-hour too long, the story is not at all compelling and it takes too long to get going, the first hour taken up with a very patchy backstory and a twenty-minute chase sequence just to kill off – the luckiest actor in the whole film in Franco – Six.

6 Underground is aimed at people who like Michael Bay films, even the bad ones. If you like the Transformers series you will enjoy 6 Underground. It is not a film that is going to challenge the likes of the aforementioned John Wick films or Netflix’s other big offering for this Christmas season, The Irishman.

6 Underground is a passable two hour plus actioner if you are into that sort of thing. It is a leave the brain in neutral film and let it wash over you. If you expect or want anything cerebral, give it a miss.

The Laws Of Thermodynamics – Review​ (Netflix)

It is a truism that, generally, a person likes to believe themselves to be right. That is not to say that their every utterance is correct or that they are never wrong. No, it more relates to what they believe, what their guiding principals are. One tends to embrace beliefs that make them feel safe and that reinforce their view of the world.

Whether those beliefs are religious or spiritual, logical or pragmatic, we all have things we believe that help us to make sense of the world and our place in it. This is the underlying premise of the delightful comedic film, The Laws of Thermodynamics or Las Leyes de la Termodinámicas, to give it its Spanish title.

Manel (Vito Sanz) is a teaching assistant at a University in Barcelona. His field of expertise is astrophysics, and he is writing a thesis on thermodynamics and its impact on people. Manel believes everything in life is subject to the laws of thermodynamics.

Away from the campus, he is in a relationship with Raquel (Irene Escolar), who loves him a lot. She ignores his obsessive quirks and fastidious nature. A month later, Manel breaks up with Raquel. She does not take it well. A year later, Manel finds himself in the same position as Raquel, as he is dumped. He does not take it well.

Back before his second breakup, Manel is walking across campus on his way to meet his friend, Pablo (Chino Darin), for a drink. Eva (Vicky Luengo) is hurrying to meet her mother for lunch, and Elena (Berta Vázquez) is waiting for friends. Elena is a famous model, and as such, distractingly beautiful.

Pablo, who is confident in dealing with women, sees her searching for a lighter for her cigarette and immediately leaves his seat to go and offer her a light. He does not see Eva walking, nor her him, as they collide. Manel sees Elena and is transfixed, watching her as she reacts to Eva and Pablo falling. He trips over the prone Eva and crashes into Elena.

After all of them have ascertained that there are no injuries, Pablo invites the two women to join them for drinks. Elena’s friends turn up shortly afterward, all models, and she has to leave.

Pablo says they should all go out and gives her his card. The four meet up and go to a club. Elena falls for Manel’s quirky charms and the two become an item. Eva is similarly captivated by Pablo’s lady-killer charms.

You will not do better than me…

Unfortunately, Manel’s insecurities immediately start to manifest; he is convinced that their relationship cannot work due to her extraordinary beauty, in contrast to his somewhat plain appearance. Elena also harbours desires of moving into acting and gets offered a role in a short film. She begins to spend less time with Manel.

Manel goes to see Pablo. Pablo tells him he is overthinking everything and putting too much pressure on the relationship. Pablo’s own relationship with Eva is being tested, as he cannot stop flirting with other women. Eva, however, takes a very different approach to Manel, even reluctantly acquiescing to his desire for a threesome.

The difference is that Pablo also does not try to pull away from Eva. Elena gets offered a film role and is excited. Whilst at a Pride parade, she introduces Manel to her co-star, Lorenzo (Juan Betancourt). Manel sees the chemistry between them.

They spot Eva and Pablo on a party bus going past. Pablo begins to show off, standing on the edge of the bus, dancing. The bus breaks abruptly and he ends up breaking his leg and winds up in the hospital.

Manel and Elena continue to drift apart. She tells him she wants to take a break after he accuses her of sleeping with Lorenzo. Manel spirals downwards and goes drinking with Eva and Pablo.

Pablo tells him he has given up other women because he loves Eva. Eva tells him that if he believes that he is miserable because Elena is happy and that he needs to be happier to affect a different outcome.

Manel acts happy, chatting up women and being more sociable. He takes out another woman, a student, and goes to the same club he went to with Elena. He runs into Elena and tries to pretend he is happy but confesses that he hoped to see her. Elena is still with Lorenzo.

Elena and Manel are breaking up. She tries to tell him that love does not follow thermodynamics, he insults her intelligence, and she gets up and leaves. Manel chases after her.

Elena tells him that the relationship was doomed to fail as it was the only way he would be able to confirm his own theory. Manel loses his assistant teaching position because of his dalliance with a student.

Pablo tells Manel that Eva is pregnant. They all go to Elena’s wedding to Lorenzo. Manel sees Raquel there; she is a friend of Lorenzo. They reconnect. The end.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, written and directed by Mateo Gil, is a highly entertaining film about the nature of relationships, the power of attractiveness and how an individual’s thoughts can impact things.

Sanz is brilliant as the neurotic Manel, hiding behind the laws of thermodynamics as he tries to navigate life and allowing those same neuroses to sabotage any chance of happiness with the luminous Vázquez’s Elena. Vázquez too is great as the model-cum-actress, whose exceptional looks cause men to make fools of themselves.

Darin—who also is in Netflix’s excellent Mirageas Pablo completely embodies the vibe of a man used to meeting women, confident in his status and his attractiveness to the opposite sex.

Luengo’s Eva is a hard role for an actress to embody without seeming a little foolish and downtrodden, but Gil’s script allows her to inhabit the part without the character looking desperate.

The film is told in a looping timeline, flashing back and forth, but with the help of voiceover from Manel and title cards, one is never lost as to where one is in the story.

There are also scenes where we see Manel’s mind at work, imagining scenarios and various outcomes in his meetings with Elena. The collision scene, where the four of them meet, is a wonderful piece of filmmaking.

Shown from different angles and viewpoints, it is humorous and informative. The only minor gripe for some might be the interspersing of various scientists talking about the laws of thermodynamics, very much in the style of 1989’s When Harry Met Sally.

At one hundred minutes long, probably padded out by the aforementioned scenes, The Laws of Thermodynamics zips along nicely, its unusual story style keeping you engaged right up to the finish. The Laws of Thermodynamics is definitely worth a watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A joy.