Combustible Celluloid
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Written by: Josˇ Padilha, Br‡ulio Mantovani
Directed by: Josˇ Padilha, Felipe Lacerda
MPAA Rating: R for language, violent images and some drug material
Language: Portuguese, Spanish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 122
Date: 11/07/2003

Bus 174 (2002)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hostage Situation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This grueling two-hour documentary shows tons of video footage shot in late 2000 during a brutal hostage situation in downtown Rio de Janeiro. A young man, Sandro do Nascimento, held six people hostage on a bus before the day ended in tragedy.

Directors Felipe Lacerda and José Padilha interview the surviving hostages for their point of view, but spend the bulk of the film trying to understand where Sandro came from. When his mother was murdered before his eyes at age six, Sandro hit the streets and learned to live by stealing and mugging. The under-trained Brazilian police and the horrendous prison conditions did nothing to help.

If anything, Bus 174 could have gone even farther, even deeper, into territories covered by hostage fictions like Dog Day Afternoon or Speed. But it's still a haunting achievement.

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