Heli (2014)



Critic Consensus: There's no denying the seriousness of Heli's story or the raw power of its more uncomfortable moments, but they're used in service of a grimly alienating film that many viewers may ultimately find unrewarding.

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Heli (Armando Espitia) is a young man living in a small town with his father, his wife,their baby and his 12-year-old sister Estela (Andrea Vergara). He works at the same car factory as his unassuming dad, although on different shifts, while his wife is still adjusting to being a mother and recovering from a difficult birth. His sister, a conscientious student, is stumbling through an unconsummated love affair with an older guy, Beto (Juan Eduardo Palacios), who is treated like dirt in brutal police cadet training sessions in the desert. One foolish decision on the too-green sister's part - allowing Beto to hide some drugs in a water tank on the roof of their home - sends the lives of her entire family into a tailspin. The sudden involvement of a vicious special crime force and, later, the corrupt local police only reinforces the picture of this family as victims of forces way beyond their control. (c) Cinema Village
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Kenny Johnston (II)
as Asesor Extranjero
Ramon Alvarez
as Evaristo
Jorge T. Rangel
as Comando R20
Gabriel Reyes
as Detective Omar
Reina Torres
as Detective Maribel
Diego Raul Lopez Santoyo
as Hijo Rosalinda
Isabel Guzman
as Gynecologist
Ignacio Mendez Oliva
as Joven Secuestrador
Juan Salcedo
as Soldado Torturado
Oscar Yepez Cabrera
as Supervisor
Olivia Zeron
as VOZ Reportera
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News & Interviews for Heli

Critic Reviews for Heli

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (15)

The film's nihilism serves as a metaphor for the merciless death pit of Mexico's drug war, but not much else.

Full Review… | December 3, 2014
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Director Amat Escalante and his gifted cinematographer Lorenzo Hagerman have crafted a powerful film that feels and looks a lot like Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning Traffic.

Full Review… | August 7, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Although it obviously is made with some skill, it also is unrelentingly dire.

Full Review… | July 10, 2014
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Unmistakably, an angry film, an indictment of circumstances that seem to force a choice between impotence and homicide.

Full Review… | June 12, 2014
New York Times
Top Critic

A stunning piece of filmmaking.

Full Review… | June 12, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

An average newspaper reporter can do a more artful, compassionate job with a drug-war story than this movie does.

Full Review… | June 11, 2014
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Heli

"Heli" is an uncompromising, nihilistic film, angry behind dead eyes and graphically shocking.

Daniel Parsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer


Most probably because of unfamiliarity, it looks so real- so desperately, yet disturbingly, real. Meanwhile, absurd.


A movie about the very particular and personal collateral damage to one family the Mexican drug wars brush against. The characters sometimes seem to react rather dispassionately to the horrors inflicted on them, but this is more likely numbness and resignation combined with the belief that being placid and unresponsive is safer and will more likely lead to survival than any other response would. There are a few gasp-inducing moments but, peculiarly, there are also times when punches seem to be pulled; both metaphorically in leaving some events off-screen, and literally in beatings where impacts have no cinematic credibility.

Michael Harbour
Michael Harbour

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