‘Below Zero’ Summary & Analysis – Same Food In Different Cutlery


Below Zero (film) derives most of its thrill from the pursuit of an outlaw against the system and society. Of late many Spanish dramas have taken inspiration for their narrative from a similar kind of source. The failure of the system to provide for the common man is taken as a granted foundation on which everything else is built. A fugitive then rises for a cause. His intentions are always shown to be pure. Most of the time the circumstances have caused him to operate beyond the realm of law and order. He has no other choice left and to avenge for his pride and honor he does certain acts that might be beyond the ambit of set norms but are glorified nonetheless. In the end, you always seem to see the outlaw in a sympathetic light. The police enforcement and other state enforcements are generally seen in a bad light but there always exists a man within the system who has his heart in the right place. He wants to abide by the law but still wants to help the outlaw.

This basic structure has been patented by many as an anti-establishment fervor has been recently seen to add commercial viability to the films. Post the success of the Spanish series Money Heist, many films have been seen propagating a mild  “Bella Ciao” sentiment.

Below Zero (Bajocero in Spanish) directed by Lluis Quilez lurks in the shadow of non conformity towards the very system.

‘Below Zero’ Summary

Two police officers are given the task of transferring a set of prisoners to another prison. The hot-headed Montesinos (Issak Ferriz) and the cool and calm Martin (Javier Gutierrez) are entrusted with this job. Montesinos has a brute way of handling the prisoners whom he considered nothing more than objects that could be manhandled. Midway a trap is laid and the tire gets deflated by a sharp object kept on purpose. Montesinos goes out to check and gets shot by an anonymous shooter, hidden in the woods. Martin is left alone with the prisoners in the van. He somehow escaped from the driving cabin and moved inside the truck with the prisoners. The shooter cannot come inside the truck as it is locked and sealed in a way that it cannot be breached. So he enters the driving cabin and starts to communicate with the prisoners and the police officer who was taken hostage by them. The shooter says that he has some business with just one prisoner named Nano (Patrick Criado). He says that if they give him Nano alive he will let everybody go.

There is a kind of obscurity as to why he only wants Nano and what is his purpose. Nano also does not tell anything very clearly. So the surviving prisoners and Martin form a team against this faceless common foe.

In the climax, we realize the real intentions of this shooter, who calls himself, Miguel (Karra Elijelde). His daughter had been brutally raped by Nano and his friend but they refused to tell him where they buried her. The court of law also couldn’t charge them due to lack of evidence. So Miguel takes things into command, having no hope from the fragile system of the country.

The Anti Establishment Fervour

What might seem very lucrative for cinematic purposes sets a very bad precedence for matters regarding utmost care and understanding? Taking the law in one’s hand seems very heroic but we should realize that the skeleton of our society is as it is very brittle. And if a majority starts to do what has been propounded then things would go out of control, merely because everybody is not a socialist, and the results would depend on the whims and fancies of an individual only looking out for his personal gain.

In Below Zero (film), the narrative is not that strong that it can trigger even non-conformist sentiment strongly. Even when the precedence is not socially correct, it is such a weak one that it doesn’t matter at all. The performances are strong but the conflict has been seen so many times before that it does not have that sense of novelty.

Yes, the general sentiments are that rapists should be killed and I vehemently agree that it is one of the most heinous crimes and the perpetrators should be punished. But still, prudence should prevail over emotions as much greater problems would be created if every outlaw is glorified and celebrated and shown in a good light.

Below Zero (film) streaming on Netflix is an entertaining watch provided you do not ask for much explanations.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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