31 January 2009

DVD: "Bandidas"

Directed by Joachim Roenning & Espen Sandberg
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Steve Zahn, Dwight Yoakam, Denis Arndt, Audra Blaser, Ismael "East" Carlo, Carlos Cervantes, Joseph D. Reitman and Sam Shepard
DVD Release: 9 January 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Sexuality, Nudity, and Violence)
List Price: $14.98 - Currently Out of Print

The Film
First things first.  Not only is the only nudity in the film Steve Zahn's backside, but the leading ladies don't even appear in the costumes they're wearing on the DVD cover.

Bandidas is a comic book of a Western, chock full of gags from Cruz playing Tic-Tac-Toe with a horse to a Matrix-style shootout.  The stunts ruin any chance of taking the film seriously, but once you realize it's all played for fun, it's easy to go along with it.  The premise of the film is that a sneaky, no-good American banker (Yoakam) is swindling Mexico to take ownership of land needed for a railroad.  He betrays his own business partner, setting Sara (Hayek) off on a vendetta against him.  She unites with peasant farmer's daughter Maria (Cruz), who has suffered as well.  They distrust one another, but in true buddy comedy fashion, learn to get past that as they fight injustice and seek revenge.

There are only three extras: the theatrical trailer, a brief featurette of the two leading actresses explaining the set-up of the film, and a feature commentary by them.  The trailer is simply obligatory and the featurette is entirely superfluous.  The commentary, though, is fun since this is apparently the first commentary track ever recorded by either Cruz or Hayek.  They tease one another throughout, but also come across as sincere friends.  
Bandidas's real premise isn't revenge against Tyler Jackson; it's about Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek wanting to work together.

The Recommendation
At 92 minutes,
Bandidas doesn't overstay its welcome as a comic book Western.  What Bandidas really does is make a compelling case that these two leading actresses should really be in a serious Western together sometime.  Also, Steve Zahn is an obscenely lucky actor.  I found this in the $5 bin at Walmart, and was entirely satisfied that I got my money's worth.  I would recommend it at that price; any more, and it's just a rental.

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