Life’s inevitable spiral towards death – it’s something we’re all tragically caught in. We have an unknown amount of time on this planet, and how we use said time is what defines us. That, in essence, is the story of Camino, Josh C. Waller’s latest collaboration with stunt-actress and perennial badass, Zoë Bell. It’s the thought that an honorable death is a life not wasted, no matter how the subject of that mentality might feel. Of course, that’s not exactly how we do things here in America, and as you can infer from the above picture, Waller takes us to a war-torn Colombian jungle in order to assess the worth of a human life – something Bell does herself when thrust into a frantic fight for survival.
Heading deep into the isolation of backwoods South America, Zoë Bell plays an award-winning photojournalist named Avery Taggert, who is given unprecedented access to a rebel leader’s latest crusade. Guillermo (Nacho Vigalondo), a self-proclaimed man of the people, plans an excursion to spread the good word of his team’s generosity, hoping that Avery can report his fight against governmental oppression for all to see. But in doing her duties, Avery catches Guillermo in a heinous act of mutilation, and reveals her position before escaping. With no choice, Avery flees into the jungle while Guillermo and his team attempt to cut her down before their true nature is made public knowledge.
Let me start by saying Camino is not a film worth dismissing – it’s just a movie I wanted more out of. The performances of all involved are strong enough to capture the isolated survival atmosphere, Waller’s Hawaiian locations are vividly lush, and an overarching theme of a warrior’s death is handled with new ideology, but the film never begs to be remembered. Daniel Noah only had a few days to fully complete the project’s script, and the unfortunate time constraint can be felt in the form of rushed plotting and a rather generic handling of Avery’s cat-and-mouse escape. It’s a bare-knuckled rebel fight, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nothing that stands out from the genre pack.
That said, Zoë Bell beats some soldier butt like only she can, and finds emotion in talking to her hallucinated husband (a plot point that drags), but Nacho Vigalondo is the one who steals every scene he’s in. If you’ve seen Nacho, or had the pleasure of meeting Nacho at any Fantastic Fest event, you know know the kind of vivacious personality he possesses – the same life he brings to Guillermo.
Vigalondo’s performance is entrancing, as he cleverly plays a deceitful wolf with enough charisma to make his raving lunacy sound somewhat sane. He speaks in riddles of sorts, about how El Camino is “the way,” and life is a journey with truth at the center – all while hiding the true monster he is. There’s something so sadistically watchable about Vigalondo’s elongated monologues, which are written so perfectly for his quick-fire, frenzied delivery. In the realm of psychotic rebellion instigators, Guillermo is a tremendous example of good intentions being manipulated by an evil, hateful man. People believe in hope, and only the most deranged, intelligent villains would prey on such humanity. Guilliermo is one of them.
The likes of Sheila Vand, Francisco Barreiro, Tenoch Huerta, Jason Canela, and Nancy Gomez round out Guillermo’s squad, but their presence isn’t felt with the same impact. Alejo (Huerta) is the soldier no government agency has been able to kill, Marianna (Vand) is the love-struck worshipper who refuses to humor suggestions of corruption and Sebastian (Canela) is the innocent newbie – the archetypes are there, but their usage is not. The true struggle here is between Guillermo and Avery, while these other characters seem only to be caught in the fray.
Camino is an excuse to get Zoë Bell on camera, beating the shit out of anyone in her path. It handles certain aspects well, like when Avery does not encounter Guillermo during a one of his final ramblings, showing that everyone has stopped listening to his split-tongued bullshit, but other overly-darkened moments struggle to express the same individuality. There will be an audience for Camino, which XLrator Media will be releasing in 2016’s first quarter, and if you’re into watching Bell do what she does best, then Waller’s film will serve as a survivalist treat – but as you can see, it won’t be for everyone.
Zoë Bell and Nacho Vigalondo deliver some serious roles, but Camino never truly finds its footing on this journey towards truth and understanding.