The Initiated (2023)

The Initiated (2023)

A Colombian neo-noir mystery that makes up for its narrative shortcuts with an intoxicating atmosphere.



Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Ana Wills, Andrés Parra, Aria Jara
112 min


A movie so gritty, that two characters get it on exclusively on a carpet in front of a fireplace, no bed needed.

What it's about

In a city plagued by toxic water, a troubled journalist investigates the death of his former student who was looking into various unexplained disappearances.

The take

Based on four different books by Colombian author Mario Mendoza, The Initiated (or Los Iniciados) is perhaps too much of a good thing at times, as it struggles to have its many different pieces cohere into one thematic idea. These separate pieces are intriguing on their own, for sure: poisoned water supply, underground activists, the mayor potentially being involved in mysterious disappearances of bodies. But by the end, the film's noir elements seem to be mostly ornamental in nature, with the supposedly twisty narrative arriving at an overly tidy conclusion.

With that said, even just spending time in The Initiated's gloomy city streets and grimy underbelly should be a joy for anyone who already enjoys hardboiled crime dramas. Solid performances and strong technical craft all around keep this world immersive no matter if the central investigation is actually progressing logically or not. It's a film that, impressively, manages to still be suspenseful just on the strength of its mood and atmosphere alone. All the danger feels raw and threatening, and leads us to imagine an even harsher world outside of what we see on screen.

What stands out

Camilo Monsalve's cinematography is truly the star of the show here. Every frame of The Initiated is stunningly lit, despite (and thanks to) the sheer depth of its black hues. It's important to note how legible all of his images are—never falling into the trap of dimming the entire frame just to make a scene appear grittier, which is something that many Hollywood blockbusters still have trouble with today. All of the lights and colors here are intentionally designed to draw our attention to certain elements, and to help tell the story in a visual way. It's one of the better looking films to come out on streaming in a while.


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