A good cast can't do enough to save this talky script about drug running on the US-Mexican border.
On his way to LA from New York and a broken relationship, Zac Cross (Patrick McCaw) gives a ride to Denis Brabent (Alfred Molina), a sleazy French actor stranded at a desert diner. They take on two more riders whom they find collapsed at the side of the road, Mexicans Astor (Esai Morales) and
Nadia (Angel Aviles), whom Astor calls his sister and who doesn't speak English. Zac begins to doubt their story (that they were smuggled into the USA and abandoned) when Astor is attacked by two Mexicans at a dusty cafe. Without letting the others see, Astor kills one of his attackers before
fleeing. The murder is investigated by border cop Sam Zaragosa (Ruben Blades) and local sheriff Rawley Gill (Kevin Tighe), who turn away an out-of-jurisdiction Mexican Commandante (Miguel Sandoval) when he also arrives.
Astor's story changes regularly as he commandeers the car toward the farm town of Scorpion Spring, where he says he is delivering Nadia to her family. Nadia, who suffers from painful cramps, tries to communicate when Astor isn't looking, but is hampered by the language barrier. Zaragosa learns
that Astor is a notorious drug runner known for his distinctive murder methods: a recent victim was the Commandante's mother. When Zac sees Astor forcing Nadia to re-swallow condoms filled with cocaine, he rebels against him. Everyone converges at Scorpion Spring, which is deserted except for El
Rojo (Matthew McConaughey), Astor's American drug contact. The Commandante is also part of the drug-running scheme, and murdered Nadia's brothers in a way to make it look like Astor's style. The standoff is resolved in a gun-battle, leaving Astor, El Rojo, and the Commandante dead and a wounded
Zaragosa unable to stop Nadia (still in possession of the cocaine) from fleeing. Zac and Denis emerge unscathed, but Denis faces a prison sentence--he's been hiding the fact that he's an illegal alien.
This synopsis only touches on the barest plot bones of SCORPION SPRING, whose denouement doesn't entirely clarify everything, but does make clear that everyone is acting in the name of honor. There is much talk about male-female relationships (Denis urges Zac to be more promiscuous in order to get
over his lost love; Nadia may or may not have been working as a prostitute, to the distress of half-brother Astor and Zac, and the interest of Denis, who turns out to be impotent) and Mexican-American relations (disturbed by the situations he sees daily, border cop Zaragosa is particularly touchy
when Sheriff Gill lectures him about things Zaragosa feels he knows better). Problem is, this is all only so much talk, leading up to a final confrontation which fails both to tie up the loose plot threads and to resolve the thematic material. On the plus side, the plentiful dialogue is
well-handled by an able cast, especially a pre-stardom Matthew McConaughey (the film was shot in 1995). (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: A good cast can't do enough to save this talky script about drug running on the US-Mexican border. On his way to LA from New York and a broken relationship, Zac Cross (Patrick McCaw) gives a ride to Denis Brabent (Alfred Molina), a sleazy French actor st… (more)