A confused and confusing noir-hued yarn about friendship gone wrong in the world of big business, “7.5 Steps” stumbles badly. The promising life-swap premise it sets up in the initial reels quickly declines into a stilted cliche-fest as a bunch of decent thesps struggle to breathe life into characters shorn of all nuance by the script. With only its energy to redeem it, the film looks unlikely to take many steps in an offshore direction.
Plot is as leaky as the boat on which we first see Abel (Ernesto Alterio). On the run from a gambling debt, he escapes to a hospital where Luis (Pere Arquille) is receiving treatment for cancer. Luis hates his entire life and offers it to Abel, who is suddenly converted into a high-flying exec in the company run by Luis’ father-in-law, Antonio (Sancho Gracia). Abel also gets to know Luis’ wife, Elisa (Ingrid Rubio). Tough-guy platitudes spill from everyone’s lips as big business is once again revealed to be corrupt. Images are often drained of color, which merely adds to the general sense of grayness.