Panic 5 Bravo
This movie is very difficult to
watch at several levels. The personal violence is bloody and brutal, even
characters are not sympathetic, and the more we know them, the less we like
are big holes in the plot line, and the viewer is left with many unanswered
And yet, as a tight little
morality play within enclosed confines, you can’t beat the inside of an
Director/Writer Kuno Becker has a point to make, and a graphic story to tell.
It begins with a handsome man,
Alex (Becker) in bed with a beautiful woman, Felicia (Sofia Cisniega).
They murmur sweet nothings as he awakes for work,
and she send him off with a sleepy kiss.
They are obviously in love, and he even shows the
viewers the ring he intends to give her when he returns.
Work that day is slow for this
crew of American paramedics stationed right on the Mexican border.
There’s the old guy, the driver, who’s about
to retire, the woman riding shotgun who’s a hard-edged excitement junkie,
the “newbie” who passes himself as a rich guy seeking to do some good for
humanity, and our hero, Alex, the one with the conscience.
He’s the one who sees the guy bleeding on the
road, just on the other side of the border.
He’s the one who tries to convince the others
that they really need to go over there and render aid.
It’s what they do.
Yes, it’s across the border, where technically
they don’t have any jurisdiction.
But are we just going to sit here and watch him
bleed out, then go to dinner?
Finally, they all decide to go
help, but this is a place where no good deed goes unpunished.
It turns out that some Mexican gang members had
intentionally left the bleeding man there, to see who might come to his
seems the man was a “mule,” carrying drugs, and the cartels are, as
always, disputing over territory, and control of the lucrative drug trade.
The whole scenario, of course,
raises a lot of questions that nobody really wants to address.
Why is the
so willing to allow all that violence on its border?
So it can later roll in as the saviors, and then
seize control of oil resources?
Because we don’t care how many Mexicans kill
each other off---and how racist is that?
And exactly why do we allow so many border
crossings, and then later wring our hands over what to do with “illegal”
we need a continual supply of cheap labor in order to fuel our own prosperous
generally the immigrants will take on the jobs that we do not wish to do
if we’re so blasé about that part, why is it that we then get all indignant
about the Hispanic immigrants speaking Spanish?
There’s even a wrinkle added
about the “newbie” being Guatemalan, and he says everybody knows the
Mexicans look down on them.
(And the Guatemalans themselves look down on
their “indigenous” population, who remain largely uneducated, and their
own source of cheap labor.)
And, of course, there’s always
the larger question of who, exactly, gets medical care, and who pays for it.
Yes, here are a couple of the biggest social
issues of our time: medical
care and immigration, both played out in a violent little vignette inside an
ambulance among a paramedic crew that’s something less than angelic.
But it sure feels gritty and real, despite the
heavy-handed approach and the low-budget limitations.
This one will make you uncomfortable at many
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Parish
Associate, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church,