Starring Gil Bellows and Greg Wise. Rating unavailable.
Three Days in Havana is a nifty little spy thriller that plays like the kind of HD dream you’d have after consuming too many mojitos and Graham Greene novels.
Our main man in Havana is the meekly named Jack Petty, an insurance salesman played by Ally McBeal’s Gil Bellows, who also wrote and codirected the film with fellow Vancouverite Tony Pantages. Their story, stitched together with ideas from other filmmaking pals, is sometimes clumsily told, with the most amateurish set-pieces at the beginning and end, which arrives a breezy, remarkably Spanish-free 80 minutes later.
In between, however, are those 72 hours in Cuba, which really were shot in Havana (except for some interior work back in B.C.). Much of the journeying comes courtesy of Jack’s instant best friend, a Scots-accented travel scribe called Harry Smith, who takes our guy out for a wicked night on the town. He’s played by the excellent Greg Wise, a U.K. TV veteran who also gives us an excuse for a quick side trip to London, and a tasty visit with Phyllida Law (aka Emma Thompson’s mum), as a grande dame who fills us in on some of the chicanery afoot. Well, we knew ol’ Harry was too good with a switchblade to be a real writer.
Along the way, there are also quick visits with Canuck vets Don McKellar, John Cassini, Chris Heyerdahl, and Lauren Lee Smith, involved (or not) with various levels of subterfuge. Some scenes come off better than others, with an especially good bit going to Tygh Runyan, as a mobbed-up point man only slightly distracted by his ulcers.
You may not totally buy what happens to Jack abroad; Bellows spends too much time looking passively bewildered, especially given some switcheroos that happen later. But there’s a lot to enjoy in cinematographer Pieter Stathis’s colour-soaked, wide-angle imagery, rich in crumbling façades, empty swimming pools, and ’57 Chevys—as it should be. Those vintage salsa tunes, plus modern variants, make the sensory meal complete.