This is a brief early review for Bandidas. The film opens on Friday Sept. 22.
Something has gone terribly wrong. Western movies have become less engaging and more humorous. John Ford would never support this formula. Westerns must be exciting. There is no handbook which states that they cannot be a little funny. Humour is necessary, but in small doses. Sergio Leone is a great example of a filmmaker who understood the western genre, and the audience. Because he was so knowledgeable he was able to direct some of the best westerns in cinema history. They also managed to be mildly comical when they needed to be. John Ford falls in the same category as Leone. It wasn’t luck. It was skill and consideration.
But yes, “Bandidas” gets a low grade for being amazingly flat and inconsiderate. This is a movie that can’t decide whether it wants to market itself as a western or a bad teenage comedy. The story takes place during the late 19th century when a ruthless baron (Dwight Yoakam) infiltrates a Mexican town and takes hold of it. An idealistic peasant (Penelope Cruz) and a sophisticated heiress (Salma Hayek) decide to take matters into their own hands. They embark on a quest for justice, revenge and, yes, a few robberies of their own.
The two aren’t experienced thieves and there is a scene in which they train to become adept robbers. First, they practice their aim. One is better than the other with a gun but then the other shows her talent with knives. Then we are treated to a pointless action scene where one saves the other from drowning. They decide it’s better to be partners instead of friends. They shake hands and continue learning the way of the robber. Suffice it to say that there are enough comical clich