This case of one thing leading to another and nobody getting what they want
is sprinkled with bad guys you don't much like, bad guys you do like, and a
few pissy people you'd like to see taken out or taken away. Nicotina is a
comedy of errors that Peter Sellers, if he were around, might find
Computer hacker Lolo (Diego Luna) finds himself in the center of a scam to
trade Swiss bank account data for diamonds with Svoboda (Norman Sotolongo),
an overstuffed and bearded Russian mobster with a nasty disposition. Lolo's
pals Nene and Tomson (Lucas Crespi and Jesus Ochoa) are the scammers who set
up the deal and are depending on Lolo to burn a CD disc with the bank info.
To the point of annoyance, they continue to haggle over the lethal effects of
cigarettes with not much more reason than to provide the film its title.
Andrea (Marta Belaustegui), Lolo's pretty neighbor and object of his desire,
discovers he has betrayed her privacy by documenting her romantic trysts with
hidden cameras and microphones that he installed in her apartment. Her
attempt to destroy his collection of spy CDs of her results in a disc mixup
and Lolo taking the wrong one for trade with the Russian.
Svoboda's computer expert quickly discovers the worthlessness of the CD he's
been handed. The exchange is off and panic shooting through the Mexico City
neighborhood begins, bringing us an assortment of soon-to-be-involved
players. At the pharmacy, tyrannical husband Beto (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) is
busy trashing his wife Clara (Carmen Madrid), which he follows up by trying
to seduce her. This tension goes to another level later, when Tomson brings
armed and wounded Nene to the pharmacy for bandaging while Beto is upstairs
taking a shower.
Down the street, gentle barber Goyo (Rafael Inclan) and witchy wife Carmen
(Rosa Maria Bianchi) turn out to be part of dying Sv˘boda's escape plan but
when Carmen overhears him on the phone saying things like, "... stuffed the
diamonds" and "... belly," she sees holidays and high living in her future
and she's not above some desperate and disgusting means of realizing her
The opening sequence of Lolo's shenanigans with Andrea is a tedious
mini-movie of its own that this screenplay, written by Martin Salinas out of
three short movie ideas, should have done without. But, once Lolo is out of
his apartment and into Nene and Tomson's caper, Nicotina finds its bearings.
Known at home by its Spanish title, (translating roughly to "Cigarettes,
Alienations, and 20 Diamonds"), it comes off as an updated Latin take on "Lock,
Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1998), itself a derivative of "Big Deal on
Madonna Street" (1960). Despite that line of inheritance, a dumb sub-theme
that bears no relationship to anything except part of the Spanish title, and
dated visual techniques like multi paneling and screen wipes, its parody of
bad intentions provides its own unique sources of rib-tickling fun and an
endearing observation of common traits and unwholesome character.
~~ Jules Brenner