“Sky High” aka “Hasta el Cielo” is a generic Spanish “gangster’s rise and fall, and maybe rise some more” tale with a “Fast and Furious” subtext — the cars, not the “we’re family” nonsense.
A slick but seriously dull “Scarface” that bounces from Valencia to Madrid to Ibiza, night-clubbing and knocking over jewelry stores and armored cars, it wastes a pretty good cast on a formulaic and soapy script whose twists aren’t interesting enough to be labeled “surprises.”
Miguel Herrán (“Money Heist”) stars as Angel, the short but muscular mechanic-turned-gangster whom everybody calls “Angelito,” mostly to insult him.
Angel falls for dark and sexy Estrella (Carolina Yuste of “Carmen & Lola”), which sets up his run-in with her man, Poli (Richard Holmes). And in the nonsense logic of this picture, their brawls/rivalry leads to Angel’s recruitment into Poli’s gang, which steals cars and uses them for smash-and-grab late night jewelry store robberies.
Angel does time, connects with unscrupulous lawyer Mercedes (Patricia Vico), re-connects with Poli when he’s released from jail, and starts ingratiating his way up the food chain, with “Sky High” being his goal. And if that means cozying up to the Big Boss (screen veteran Luis Tosar, most recently seen in “The Vault”), then sure, he’ll hit on and pursue Don Rogelio’s hot daughter (Asia Ortega).
He becomes Poli’s blood-rival, carries out robberies and alters his business plan. Two-timing Angel is in and out of jail every step of the way on his way to “Sky High,” with the forever one-step-behind-him cops (Fernando Cayo) seemingly picking sides in gangland to suit the whims of Mr. Big.
Even the film’s most ingenious heist, armored cars on a ferry, isn’t handled with the sort of snap, crackle and pop you expect from a thriller these days. Every other robbery is perfunctory, fresh only to young folks streaming their first-ever heist picture.
The back and forth with cops and the legal system feels real enough, but that part of this “true story” is too boring to dig into.
The biggest problem hanging over the film is the low stakes. We’re meant to root for Angel and against others, but we don’t fear for their lives, in spite of the double crosses and fisticuffs.
Even the love triangle plays as stale. And if you don’t know how to film and edit a ticking-clock car theft, breaking into a dealership to steal seven Audis isn’t a way to “fix” that shortcoming.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, violence, sex, profanity
Cast: Miguel Herrán, Carolina Yuste, Asia Ortega, Luis Tosar, Richard Holmes and Patricia Vico.
Credits: Directed by Daniel Calparsoro, script by Jorge Guerricaechevarría. A Netflix release.
Running time: 2:02