José Luis Garci's oeuvre can be divided into two parts. During and right after Spain's 'transición', he made films that were engaged with the times while clearly troubled by a sense of not completely being at the right moment in history. After a seven-year silence following Asignatura aprobada (1987), Garci returned to cinema to focus on historical subjects, remaking past classics with Canción de cuna (1994) or La herida luminosa (1997) and creating heritage dramas like Luz de domingo (2007) or Sangre de mayo (2008) any ardent cinephile's dream of classical cinema: an art of the times and against all times.
With El crack cero, Garci looks at his own corpus of films through that prism of cinephile classicism. He returns to Germán Areta, the hero of his two Hammett-hommages, El crack (1981) and El crack 2 (1983), showing the gumshoe's early days as an independent investigator after leaving the police force.