Exploitation films have made their way to the main stream with the popularity of movies like Planet Terror, Death Proof and the recent Machete. Moreover, filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino take their love affair with grind house films and create something new. Something like a Human Centipede of filmmaking. First time filmmaker, Frankie Latina delivers a new and very exciting entry into the exploitation spy genre with Modus Operandi. A high powered film that surprises with every turn creating something I have personally never seen on the screen.
Roughly Modus Operandi tells the story of Stanley Cashay (Randy Russell), a highly dangerous Black Ops C.I.A. agent who has fallen into a deep and tortuous depression when his wife is brutally murdered. But when two briefcases are stolen from a presidential candidate (Michael Sottile), Cashay takes the deadly mission to find the briefcases and to ultimately seek his wife’s killers to unleash his unforgiving revenge. This film is full of international intrigue, ridiculous explosions, double crossing agents and tongue and cheek humor mixed with irony. But not only is the film’s content one to marvel at, it is the manner in which these elements are delivered.
Frankie Latina has an artful eye for filmmaking, that is apparent with Modus Operandi. This film tests an audience unlike anything I’ve seen this year. So many times this film has challenged my patience and I honestly felt like leaving ten minutes into the movie. The film is so pervasive and shocking but at the same time interesting and honest that by the end of the first couple of scenes, it made me want to sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m glad I stayed because what I was witness to was a true sight to see. There is a certain type of energy and honesty displayed on the screen with the cameras placement and exquisite movement. This is why I love movies, the feeling of excitement with every burst of energy and fun.
The release of this film is an interesting one as well. Coming off the heels of another exploitation film, Machete (also with Danny Trejo). But where Machete fails, Modus Operandi succeeds. Again, the honesty of making an homage to 80s low budget exploitation films with an actual low budget rings true with one of these movies. Guess which one. The one with Hollywood movie stars like Robert DeNero, Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba? Or the one made with video cameras, stock footage and actors we’ve never heard of? Modus Operandi does with resourceful filmmaking where Robert Rodriguez fails to remember why people love movies, honesty in fiction and storytelling.
Overall, Modus Operandi is a thrilling display of sex, drugs and ultra violence that spoofs the spy genre and turns the James Bond archetype on its head. A surprisingly artful film from a new exciting voice in Frankie Latina brought to you by former adult film star, Sasha Grey. Modus Operandi is worth watching and would be perfect for an theater’s midnight series. If you have to watch an grind house exploitation film featuring Danny Trejo this weekend, make it Modus Operandi and not Machete. I guarantee you’ll never see a film quite like Modus Operandi in theaters ever again.
Modus Operandi opens on Friday, September 10th at the IFC Center in New York City.