SUMMER, height of the silly season, most folk away on holiday. It might be thought the ideal time for distributors to slip out their dead, and it is, but it is also an opportunity to see some quietly cracking smaller movies that might go by unnoticed at any other time.

The Candidate fits snugly into the latter category. From the producers of The Secret in Their Eyes, this fast-paced, twisty political thriller has deservedly won many awards in its native Spain, and further afield.

Antonio de la Torre plays Manuel Lopez-Vidal, battle hardened, long-time political backroom operator just waiting for the nod to go higher. When we meet him he is with party colleagues having a good lunch. It’s all pals together as the wine flows and plans take shape.

On a nearby television screen is a young judge who is making it his business to tackle corruption. Lopez-Vidal and his colleagues mock the lawman and his pledges to succeed where so many others have failed.

Next morning, along with the hangovers, trouble arrives. One of their number has been caught on tape and is talking to police. Operation clean-up goes into full swing, with Lopez-Vidal tearing from office to office, ordering everyone to get busy with the shredders.

But next day he is named by the inquiry and is accused of tax fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and much else. He needs friends, fast, but he is being frozen out, his calls and pleas ignored. It looks like Lopez-Vidal is to be the fall guy.

De la Torre, small, wiry and intense, barrels through the movie like a Napoleon robbed of his armies. Director Rodrigo Sorogoyen tries to add to the pace by pumping in a soundtrack of disco beats, one of his less successful moves as he resorts to it too often.

Sorogoyen is on surer ground with the action scenes. While not exactly on a par with Bond you will be amazed at what he can do with one man crashing a meeting or catching a train to Madrid.

With the net closing in, the only way Lopez-Vidal might escape is if he can offer the judge a bigger fish. Once it has become clear what he is up to his former friends have even more reason to treat him as an enemy who must be eliminated.

The screenplay by Sorogoyen and Isabel Pena over-reaches by placing Lopez-Vidal in one too many tight spots that he must escape from, as a result of which the film is a good half hour too long for a thriller. But stay the distance for a blistering final act involving a head to head, live television interview. Eat your heart out, Andrew Neil.

GFT till August 5 and on digital download