In the Defense Against Tyranny

Written and directed by Felix Igori Ramos, Francisco Suarez has the unique opportunity to interview one of the Presidential candidates. Torn by his desire to be objective, he is left with a choice that could mean the end of his career but the deliverance of his country. Starring: Randy Vasquez, Fernanda Moya, Rick Ravanello, Marilyn Sanabria and Lynette Coll.

Eventually there may be a world where the ethics and morals of politicians don’t need to be called into question but that’s certainly not today. Edward Ashe (Ravanello) is a fairly typical straight-laced, old-fashioned values and refusing to accept progress as a definite, type politician. Francisco Suarez (Vasquez) is a man who’s made a few mistakes and hurt the people he loves, arriving at a moment where he can do some good, but it means staking his career on it. It’s a classic dilemma of doing what’s best for the many or for yourself, and it’s where the story is at its strongest. There’s plenty to explore within that ground, and it creates a nice tension leading up to the interview and revealing whether Francisco will do the right thing. However, the story unfortunately gets incredibly distracted along the way.

It has a tendency to lean on sentimentality, the repeated moments it spends going over the death of Francisco’s wife feel unnecessary, and the tone undercuts the political atmosphere. Some of the ways in which the story is delivered also have religious overtones and while that itself is not a problem, it can make it feel like it’s preaching at you rather than demonstrating their values. There simply isn’t a strong balance between the focus on family and politics, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, but the two aren’t working in harmony here.

Felix Igori Ramos’s direction however does work to try chip away at that imbalance. It uses a good variety of shots, not always going for the expected angle, as well as being helped by the editing. It feels weaker when the story heads into a more over-dramatic realm, but when it’s level-headed everything works nicely. The cinematography is slightly over soft, it may have helped to bring through a sharper edge to the visual when dealing with the political and argumentative elements. It also has a heavy narration running over the top, it’s not used too frequently, although it doesn’t have a lot to add, it’s mostly context that you can gather on your own.

The acting follows a similar path as the overall style, in its more grounded moments they all work very well but when things get more emotional or dramatic, it’s not as strong. Randy Vasquez does a good job of creating a man marred by regret, but occasionally goes overboard, particularly when the film explores suicide or self-harm, which comes across fairly heavy-handed. Rick Ravanello gives you exactly what you need with this character but also a little bit extra with his emotional side. Fernanda Moya provides a nice middle ground, taking in the different elements of the film, she’s independent and political but also sentimental and grieving.

In the Defense Against Tyranny has a good concept, exploring the question of whether you would choose success or pride but it ultimately loses focus and spends too much time in other places. There’s solid elements to the direction but it’s hindered by the film’s sentimental streak. It’s a relevant topic and worth diving into but it could have potentially benefited from scaling back its focus to bring through a sharpness or bigger tension.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Available now on Amazon Prime Video

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