I got a press e-mail (yes, some people consider me ‘press’) about Camino just a few hours before I got a regular people e-mail from the illustrious (and unofficial producer/mentor/guru at NoRealDanger) Wolfman (of The Wolfman Cometh fame) telling me that I should review Camino. Now, that guy’s opinion is always at the top of my respected opinions list, so even if I hadn’t already responded with a request for a screener, I would have then. I really like Zoe Bell. She’s a badass who doesn’t have trouble showing a sensitive side or a tortured soul in her roles. So, I was on board for this Bell vehicle.
Bell plays photojournalist, Avery. She’s a tortured soul (yes!) who’s seen a lot of shit in her specialty, war journalism. After winning a prestigious award and spending a tearfully strained night with her husband (in true tortured soul form), her editor sends her to Columbia to embed with a small rebel group led by Guillermo, a charismatic Che Guevara look-a-like. The group calls themselves missionaries despite carrying assault weapons and they claim that they want to liberate Columbia. (oh, it’s 1985 by the way) Guillermo turns out to be less missionary, and more horrible person. When Avery snaps a picture of him at a particularly inopportune (for him) time. He uses his power and influence over his small group to start a (wo)manhunt for her through the jungle. A tense and deadly game of cat and mouse ensues.
Zoe Bell does not disappoint in Camino. She’s definitely badass. She jumps off of cliffs and out of trees, she knife fights and fistfights and gunfights as radly (yes, that’s an adverb) as any action hero. It’s appropriate that Camino is set in the 80s since it feels like an 80s action film. First Blood in particular, with its tortured (there’s that adjective again) protagonist hunted through the forest for crimes he/she didn’t commit by a band led by an archetypically evil leader (played by Nacho Vigalondo with intense menace). But Camino adds artistic depth to the 80s formula. Shots of the lush forest setting and extreme closeups are used as cutaways to great effect. The beauty and horror of the jungle is conveyed simultaneously in these shots. The score adds to that artistry with minimalist light instruments (and the occasional clapping) accenting the ambient jungle noise giving way to discordant, jarring stings and rises as the action intensifies. And intensify it does. Avery is pushed beyond her limits in her struggle to survive her ordeal. She is forced to fight violence with violence. And her already fragile mental state deteriorates in proportion to her own blood loss. Bell delivers a perfect performance through her entire character arc. If she were 20 years older, maybe she could be in the next Expendables movie, but I don’t think the old guard would be too happy with being shown up by a (relatively) young badass woman.
The Final Cut: Camino is a tense and thrilling action film with a superb performance by Bell. It’s a violent nail-biter that should satisfy horror fans as well as wider audiences.