Bandidas (2006)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/28/07
Written and Produced by: Luc Besson
Music: Eric Serra
Cast: Salma Hayek, Penélope Cruz, Steve Zahn, Dwight Yoakam, Sam Shepard

Real-life gal pals Salma Hayek and Penélope Cruz approached producer Luc Besson about doing an action comedy film and came up with this innocuous and light-hearted Western romp. The evil American bastards are stealing Mexican land in order to build a railroad, and ruining the lives of hundreds of hard working Mexican farmers. When a peasant girl named Maria (Penélope Cruz) loses her land and a wealthy educated girl named Sara (Salma Hayek) loses her father to the vicious land-grabbers, they both decide to take revenge and liberate their people. Using the tried and true cop buddy formula, the two of them hate each other and are always at each other's throats, but eventually team up to fight for a common cause. With the help of a priest, a retired bank robber, and a nerdy criminologist (Steve Zahn), they become the most feared and proficient outlaws in the land. Justice is finally served and Mexico's gold is safely back in the hands of its people.

While it's not a particularly good movie, it's hard to say anything bad about it because it's just so fun and silly (not to mention sexy). The two leads are excellent and play off each other very well. It's readily apparent that they have great admiration for each other and had a really good time making the film, and their positive energy flows effortlessly out of the finished product. The writing never attempts to be overly clever, and most of the wit comes from the girls constantly bickering with each other. The kissing sub-plot is a bit annoying and unnecessary, but it's not intolerable. While the girls handle their action scenes with charm and flair, blatant wire-work, obvious stunt doubling, and cut-away editing tend to spoil the final results. The supporting cast is passable, but some of the faux Mexican accents are a little embarrassing. Eric Serra provides a splendid musical score and the cinematography is beautiful. Overall, it's a fun and simple film that delights in the charms of its leading ladies, and they are quite delightful indeed. Salma Hayek is radiant as always, and proves to have a gift for comedic timing. And while I've never thought much of Penélope Cruz, she is positively adorable and thoroughly captivating throughout the film. Of course, her amazing cleavage and exposed neckline might have something to do with that. Wow...