Saturday, April 14, 2007

BANDIDAS MOVIE REVIEW














CAST: PENELOPE CRUZ, SALMA HAYEK, STEVE ZAHN, SAM SHEPARD
DIRECTOR: JOACHIM ROENNING & ESPEN SANDBERG
RUNTIME: 93 min.
RATING: ***
GENRE: WESTERN, COMEDY

This is isn’t BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and it doesn’t intend to be either. This is a charmingly goofy, silly and shamelessly entertaining movie with two wonderful actresses having a jolly good time with each other. Penelope Cruz is Maria, an innocent farm girl with no apparent talent other than being a fantastic markswoman and the better of the two, talking to horses. And of course, the horses listen to her as well. Salma Hayek is Sara, the pampered European-educated daughter of an aristocratic family who besides being educated is quite a hand with knives and is fantastic with horses. When a tyrant by the name of Jackson (Dwight Yoakam) starts robbing people of their land and in the process kills Sara’s father, both these women get on the road and start robbing banks. Their aim, to bring back wealth to their townspeople and to get rid of the villains.
Not much of a plot, of course, this has Luc Besson’s name on it, the man who has given us LEON and quite a few guilty pleasures (TRANSPORTER, TRANSPORTER 2). I wasn’t expecting the movie to be much good and the main reason for me to watch the movie was of course the leads. And they don’t disappoint you to either. The most remarkable thing about Hayek and Cruz is that they aren’t just incredibly beautiful women, they are remarkably wonderful actresses. Give them a good enough role, and they’ll deliver big time. The characters here in the hands of lesser actresses would have been corny and zero fun. But both Penelope and Salma ooze so much charm that it is a real pleasure to watch. Penelope is so gracefully sweet, she is cute when she talks to her horses and of course when she says she has never kissed a man. And the minor tussles between her and Hayek, though corny when you think about it, are quite funny. Then there’s Sam Shepard who barely stays five minutes on the screen but is quite fantastic. In fact the movie is predictable but funny all the way. It hits all the right cords. Steve Zahn is bumbling all along and he sure is fun to watch.
Directors Roenning and Sandberg have done a fantastic job making a western that is essentially a comedy. The locales are fantastic, the Ennio Morriconesque background score all add up to a fantastic experience. The shoot sequence at the end deserves special mention for it is beautifully innovative.
The movie so much loves BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID; it has the “I can’t swim” sequence thrown in. Make Cruz the Kid and Salma Butch Cassidy. Of course, both of them aren’t Newman or Redford, but then who has been. The Paul Newman-Robert Redford masterpiece is and it seems will be the greatest buddy movie of all time. Of course, Clooney and Pitt seem to be a touch closer but Hayek and Cruz here are quite fantastic with each other. When actors like these are having fun, it more often than not radiates on to the screen. This movie here isn’t one to make the top-10 lists but to provide unadulterated, unabashed fun. And after watching some real garbage for the last few days, this movie just seems that touch nicer. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s sequel awaiting us in the future and I am more than ready to lap it up.

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