The men have the brawn but the women have the brains in Agustin Diaz Yanes' "Solo quiero caminar," a stylish femme-driven thriller that grips in the first scene and never lets go. Hyperactive style -- with rapid-fire editing and constant narrative jumps -- masks pic's multiple implausibilities temporarily, but, even though it falls apart on reflection, pic reps as enjoyable a couple of hours as a Spanish thriller has provided for a while.

The men have the brawn but the women have the brains in Agustin Diaz Yanes’ “Solo quiero caminar,” a stylish femme-driven thriller that grips in the first scene and never lets go. Hyperactive style — with rapid-fire editing and constant narrative jumps — masks pic’s multiple implausibilities temporarily, but, even though it falls apart on reflection, pic reps as enjoyable a couple of hours as a Spanish thriller has provided for a while. Offshore prospects look decent; in Spain, however, the Oct. 31 release, one of the year’s most-awaited, has performed disappointingly.

Film opens with a failed heist by a team of small-time female hoodlums — Gloria (Victoria Abril), Aurora (Ariadna Gil) and Ana (Elena Anaya), plus Paloma (Pilar Lopez de Ayala) who combines life as a crook with a day job in a legal office — that lands Aurora in jail as the others escape.

Ana falls in with Mexican gangsters Felix (Jose Maria Yazpik) and Gabriel (Diego Luna), who are traveling in Europe and who end up taking Ana back to Mexico with them. Meanwhile, Gloria and Paloma set about getting Aurora out of jail.

Pic abandons the sunlit Spanish locations of Andalucia for the basements and back alleys of Mexico, where things don’t go well for Ana and she ends up asking the other women to come and avenge her.

The absence of any backstory means pic is never in any danger of slowing down. But it gives the proceedings a summary air, as well as leaving some major credibility gaps.

In often physically demanding roles that involve endless tunnel crawling, distaff cast is fine, particularly Abril. Thesp recalls her role in Yanes’ debut pic, the pioneering femme thriller “Nobody Will Speak of Us When We’re Dead” (1995), and successfully pulls together the twin roles of a concerned mother and hardened crook.

Lensing is frenetic, investing everything with urgency and endowing it all with the same visual significance. Cinematic refs abound, from Martin Scorsese (“GoodFellas”) through Jean-Pierre Melville (“The Samurai”) to Sam Peckinpah (“The Wild Bunch”). Title, which literally means “I Only Want to Walk,” comes from a Paco de Lucia song.

Solo quiero caminar

Spain-Mexico

Production

A Hispano Foxfilm (in Spain) release of a Boomerang Cine, Antena 3 Films (Spain)/Canana (Mexico) production, with participation of Antena 3, Canal Plus. (International sales: Antena 3 Films, Madrid.) Produced by Jose Manuel Lorenzo, Eduardo Campoy, Pablo Cruz. Directed, written by Agustin Diaz Yanes.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Paco Femenia; editor, Jose Salcedo; music, Javier Limon; art director, Salvador Parra; sound (Dolby Digital), Pierre Gamet. Reviewed at Cines Princesa, Madrid, Nov. 3, 2008. Running time: 130 MIN.

With

Diego Luna, Victoria Abril, Ariadna Gil, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Elena Anaya, Jose Maria Yazpik.

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