A caper film inspired by a real robbery, “Museo” provides an angle that is different from others in the genre. This theft is not by seasoned criminals, but by a couple of young guys who have no idea of how difficult it will be to dispose of their loot, and the leader is inspired not only by money but by his love his country’s culture.
There was a real robbery in 1985 of Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. In this version, “Museo,” directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios, the brains behind the theft is Juan, a frustrated young veterinary school student who hasn’t amounted to much, but is fascinated by the contents of the museum. He is played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who manages to bring a special quality to whatever role he inhabits. Here he is the epitome of restlessness. He has a close friend, Wilson, portrayed by Leonardo Ortizgris, who is reluctant at the Christmas Eve moment Juan says they must strike because Wilson’s father is seriously ill. But Wilson gives in.
The actual heist has been well-planned by Juan, and it goes smoothly as we watch the meticulous details unfold, with Juan in awe of what they take in the way of Mayan artifacts. They have a fence in mind to steer them, but when they are finally led to the collector (Simon Russell Beale) whom they expect to buy the loot, they are given the shocking news that the stolen objects are too hot to handle and nobody would be foolish enough to purchase them.
How this all works out, including the reaction of Juan’s father when he realizes that his son has committed such a dastardly crime, is the substance of the rest of the picture. We follow what happens to Juan, Wilson and the stolen objects. The film is not one that especially catches fire, yet the atmosphere, excellent cinematography, settings and the well-acted characters make “Museo” quite watchable. Reviewed September 14, 2018.