By Chris Cabin
In the history of really silly wigs, Dwight Yoakam's long, crimped black hair in Bandidas has gone and snuck its way into the top ten. It's part of the silliness of the film that stops it from being a truly terrible movie. That being said, there's no other compliments I can ratchet out for this sucker.
It's the old west and things aren't well. Tyler Jackson (Yoakam) has used a six-shooter to take over much of the land in Mexico, and wants to use all of this to make connections and money through big time land developers. He makes a mistake when he shoots the father of Maria (Penélope Cruz) and poisons the wealthy father of Sara (Selma Hayek). After some squabbling over class, they decide to pair up as bank robbers and steal all of Jackson's money, getting tips from retired bank robber Bill Buck (Sam Shepard, why?). They eventually pair with a forensic psychologist (Steve Zahn) who starts falling for both the girls as they plan to breach Jackson's big vault.
Entertainment isn't in short supply here but freshness, in any form, is. Many will no doubt defend it as "escapism," which by all means is fine. Bandidas, however, is not escapism. The film never asks us to give over, never allows us to accept its personality, and its action as grandiose enough to make us not care about the story. Every scene is so obvious and so familiar that it never allows us even the smallest amount of surprise (even Armageddon had that). Call it Wild Wild West with women, except even that movie had crazy computer graphics to keep you interested.
Hayek and Cruz work well together, but with a bunko script by Luc Besson (how the same brain that made The Professional spewed this out is beyond me) and by-the-books directing from Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, they don't have much to work with. Steve Zahn, a great sideman, is completely pointless to the film in almost every aspect. The first scene has Zahn studying a crime scene, but he is ultimately used as a simple reason to have a love story. Worse than that, the love story is limp as an overcooked noodle. There's one scene where the girls practice kissing on Zahn, which Hayek steams up with ample talent. Besides that scene, all the eroticism that Hayek and Cruz are notorious for bringing to films is sadly absent. What is left is a heist western that is devoid of thrills, sizzle, or any real humor. Well, except the wig. I love that wig.
Well it looks pretty good so far.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 18th January 2006
Box Office Worldwide: $10.5M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: TF1 Films Production, A.J.O.Z. Films, Ultra Films, Canal+, TPS Star, EuropaCorp
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 5
Cast & Crew
Director: Joachim Roenning, Espen Sandberg
Starring: Penélope Cruz as Maria Alvarez, Salma Hayek as Sara Sandoval, Dwight Yoakam as Tyler Jackson, Steve Zahn as Quentin, Denis Arndt as Ashe, Audra Blaser as Clarissa Ashe, Sam Shepard as Bill Buck, Ismael 'East' Carlo as Don Diego, Gary Carlos Cervantes as Pedro, José María Negri as Padre Pablo, Lenny Zundel as Bernardo, Édgar Vivar as Expl. Bank Manager, Ernesto Gómez Cruz as Brujo, Filiberto Estrella as Midget, Yomo Tlazotlalli as Gordo, Humberto Elizondo as Governor, Justo Martínez as Cable Bank Manager