Review: ‘Olvidados’ loses its way in story of brutal Operation Condor


After suffering a heart attack at the sight of an old wartime foe, José Mendieta (Damián Alcázar) in “Olvidados” begins composing a letter to his son, Pablo (Bernardo Peña), abroad in America. He tells Pablo about his days serving as a Bolivian general during the infamous Operation Condor, implemented by the dictatorships of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s with the support of the CIA to suppress communism by means of arrest, torture and assassination.

Though the events are supposedly as recalled by José, the film is far from sympathetic toward him and his Operation Condor cohorts. In fact, they are shown as violent oppressors who beat, waterboard, electrocute, shoot and rape without mercy. Meanwhile, the subversives come off as harmless, hapless hippies, and Pablo seems like some moneyed Manhattan schmuck.

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As if the torture scenes don’t already render the film nearly unwatchable, we also have go-for-broke editing. Director and co-editor Carlos Bolado seems to have attempted the maximum number of cuts rather than shape the story and prune the extraneous bits. Few shots seem to linger longer than a few seconds.

By cramming in as many tangents as imaginable, “Olvidados” ultimately loses sight of what the story is even about.



No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Playing: Laemmle’s Royal, West Los Angeles