Ladrón Que Roba A Ladrón centers on a trenchant observation that could easily have fueled a painfully sincere message movie: Latino immigrant workers in America are devalued and ignored to the point where they seem to blend into the scenery, hidden in plain sight, just part of the white noise of urban living. In Ladrón, a pair of savvy career criminals use this to their advantage by having their Hispanic gang pose as day-laborers and working-class grunts. They use their access to break into the vault of a hiss-worthy infomercial guru who has made a vast fortune cynically selling false hope and bogus cure-alls to gullible, uneducated dreamers. Yes, Ladrón is a heist movie with a message, albeit one so blunt that it sometimes threatens to beat down its lighthearted romp with earnest good intentions. Thankfully, director Joe Menendez is savvy enough to include enough sugar to make the medicine go down.
As the Robin Hood-like masterminds of the heist, Fernando Colunga and Miguel Varoni ooze charisma in spite of fashion choices some 15 years out of date. (A ponytail in 2007? Really?) In the grand tradition of comic heist movies, they fill out their crew with a series of familiar but lustily performed types, from the sexy tomboy who cleans up nicely to a wonderfully spacey actor who ran into trouble in his native Cuba for performing "counterrevolutionary" shows where he dressed up as Fidel Castro and Uncle Sam simultaneously.
Powered by a brisk pace, lively supporting cast, clever script, and handsome leads, Ladrón offers a good time and a lecture on the dangers of greed and the oft-overlooked importance of immigrants, in roughly that order. With its abundant masculine eye candy, light-hearted heist plot, and dual matinee-idol male leads, the film bears a suspicious, almost lawsuit-worthy resemblance to the Ocean's movies. But judging by the lethargic Ocean's Thirteen, it looks like Steven Soderbergh and the gang could learn a little something from Menendez's entertaining, casually satirical crowd-pleaser.