As we noted in our review, the English title for Edgar Nito’s latest film, The Gasoline Thieves, is informative enough. But it lacks the specificity of the Spanish word it’s trying to translate. Huachicolero, after all, has a long history as well as very specific associations with the young Mexican men who, for much of the 2010s, have turned to fuel theft from pipelines owned by Pemex, the state oil company, as a way to make a quick buck. This is an activity that’s become all the more dangerous the more it’s been taken up by cartels and other organized criminal groups. That very context is what first inspired Nito to create a feature film that would use this urgent political crisis as backdrop for a tender coming of age tale.

For, despite its thriller trappings and its explosive climax, The Gasoline Thieves is, above all, the story of Lalo (Eduardo Banda), a young boy who wants nothing more than to impress his high school crush with a new smartphone. That, he believes, will show her just how much he cares for her. But when his mother uses his savings to help out a family member with their hospital bills, Lalo finds there may be a way to earn really good money by helping out a group of local guys steal some gasoline from that pipeline that adorns his small town’s landscape. Spoiler alert: things get increasingly dangerous for Lalo, who quickly finds himself on the run in this gripping almost ripped from the headlines thriller.

Feeling like a contemporary Mexican Western, with its dusty landscapes and macho lawlessness, The Gasoline Thieves is a snapshot of a crisis that increasingly makes young men victims and martyrs in equal measure. After doing the film festival rounds, Nito’s film is readying for a limited release later this year and Remezcla has an exclusive look at its trailer, which you can watch in all its fiery beauty below.

The Gasoline Thieves opens May 2020.