Exploring some of the territory ably opened by Graham Greene, director Alex Cox examines the tangled life and morality of a young Mexican highway patrolman, Pedro (Roberto Sosa), who must negotiate that middle lane between his personal life and a difficult career in which corruption, that
mainstay in Mexican life, is shown as a sometime needed touch of humanity.
At the police academy, the sergeant pulls Pedro and his pal, Anibal (Bruno Bichir), out of class to help his wife with shopping or washing the car. In class, the students are initiated into the first law of procedure--"they're always guilty of something; you pull them over first and figure out
what it is later." Assigned to Durango, Pedro meets Griselda (Zaide Silvia Gutierrez), a local farm-owner, who soon becomes his wife, and donates a box of uninventoried toys to a local orphanage. A dumped dead pig is soon sold on the sly to the local poor despite health rules, and Pedro receives a
little hush money. Ashamed of himself, he goes to the local bar where he sleeps with a young whore, Maribel (Vanessa Bauche). His early morning return home sparks a fight and Griselda is only mollified when he gives her the bribe money--she believes he's been working. In a shoot-out, Pedro is
wounded in the leg, and later he wrecks his car. His friend Anibal dies walking alone into a trap when Pedro's engine dies. During an investigation in a rural village, he discovers Maribel in cocaine withdrawl. He sets up a trap for her supplier Emilio, and, in a ferocious shoot-out, Pedro kills
him. Realizing he could soon land in big trouble, he resigns from the police force to manage his wife's farm. He continues to visit Maribel, who extorts a promise of money from him with the threat to return to whoring.
The gritty naturalism of HIGHWAY PATROLMAN is quite an accomplishment, since director Cox and screenwriter Lorenzo O'Brien received no help from the Mexican police. Violence in the film is realistically treated, with none of the mindless heroics familiar from other films. Even a multi-vehicle
accident is seen as a horrid event involving lost limbs and lives. However, it is the absolutely casual nature of the corruption, whether of stolen toys for orphans or spiriting away a dead pig, that is most impressive in this feature, along with the heavy toll that this widespread practice takes.
From Pedro's resignation from the force to his slowly unravelling marriage, its effects permeate all aspects of his life. (Graphic violence, sexual situations, profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: Exploring some of the territory ably opened by Graham Greene, director Alex Cox examines the tangled life and morality of a young Mexican highway patrolman, Pedro (Roberto Sosa), who must negotiate that middle lane between his personal life and a difficult… (more)