Director: Stephen Daldry (2014)

Fresh fish are good and plastic is bad in this environmental sermon that masquerades as a thriller.

It opens with a teenage boy holding someone at gunpoint, by the time we eventually discover why it’s all turned terribly silly.

Favela-living boys from Brazil Raphael (Rickson Teves)and Gardo (Eduardo Luis) are paid a pittance to scavenge all day on the municipal rubbish dump.

No wonder the US and Europe have sent Father Juilliard (Martin Sheen) and Sister Olivia (Rooney Mara) to bring religion and education.

It’s good they’re doing something as they don’t interfere with the plot in any meaningful way.

Otherwise it’s non-stop street parties and skinny-dipping amid the picturesque poverty of the colourful favela. It even burns down in a  pretty manner.

When Raphael discovers a money-filled wallet, he and Gardo enlist sewer-dwelling Rato (Gabriel Weinstein) to help fence it.

But Rato recognises the key it contains as coming from a train station locker, so off they go to investigate.

However on the payroll of a corrupt  congressman, bad cop Frederico (Selton Mello) is searching for the wallet as it contains something incriminating.

Frederico drinks water from a plastic bottle making him not only brutally corrupt but gasp, a walking environmental disaster as well.

When he indulges in a bit of ultra-violence to classical music he does so on a creative whim – not because it tells us anything anything about his character.

There’s bags of cash, a ledger of crooked accounts, rooftop running, motorbike chases, gunplay and beatings.

There’s aggression but a lack of anger. Sister Olivia who simply shrugs her shoulders at events, even when lured to a prison under false pretences and later arrested.

It’s a shame as Mara is very good acting angry, maybe she’s despondent because the script give her so little to do.

Wretched script-writer Richard Curtis adapted this boy’s own Brazil-based adventure from Andy Mulligan’s book.

There are echoes of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Millions but it’s nowhere near as coherent, compelling or dynamic.

Editor Elliot Graham tries manfully to inject pace and energy using the cinematic steroids of freeze-frames and flashbacks – but real muscle is lacking.

Failing in its attempt at a feel-good finale, the ending lasts more than long enough to spell out its sanctimonious message.


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