This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
I don't know if John Leguizamo was thinking of Geraldo Rivera when he made "Cronicas," but I was. Leguizamo plays the same kind of swashbuckling TV reporter who likes to be in the middle of breaking news stories, standing on camera in front of amazing events. Nothing wrong with that, unless you start thinking of yourself as the foreground and the story as the setting.
In "Cronicas," Leguizamo plays Manolo Bonilla, a Miami-based star reporter for a Spanish-language network that blankets Latin America. He's in Ecuador covering the story of the "Monster of Babahoyo," a serial killer who has murdered at least 150 young children. During a funeral for the latest victims, a man in a pickup truck grows confused and runs over a small boy. The funeral mob turns ugly, drags the man from his truck, beats him, douses him with gasoline and is prepared to set him afire.
Bonilla and his crew film the mob scene right up to the point the match is thrown. Then they're involved, along with Bolivar Rojas (Camilo Luzuriaga), a local policeman, in saving the man's life. But a lynching still seems likely, and the man, named Vinicio (Damian Alcazar), bargains with the reporter, telling him he has inside knowledge of the Monster and his methods.
At this point, I am prepared to believe that Leguizamo can play just about anyone, and do it well. A list of his roles would take us from drag queens ("To Wong Foo...") to Toulouse-Lautrec ("Moulin Rouge") to a dog whisperer ("The Honeymooners"), from the works of Shakespeare ("Romeo + Juliet") to zombie-hunting ("Land of the Dead"). Here he convincingly plays an experienced TV reporter, in a performance that knows the type and knows the job and strikes a nice balance between how he covers the story and gets publicity for himself, two tasks he is equally suited for.