Perhaps it was the extremely low expectations, or the fact that we rarely see westerns anymore, that ended up making it for me in the end. Because even though “Bandidas” is another “girl power” film, it’s also proudly an old fashioned western, and you can’t fault it for that aspiration. It’s a revenge tale, as all westerns are, it’s a tale about two people banding together to fight the criminals whom murdered their family, while having a damn good time robbing banks. Even with directors Roenning and Sandberg’s honest attempt at the long dead genre, and featuring two of the most irritating title characters in last ten years, I still enjoyed “Bandidas”, because it’s shameless, and silly, and very entertaining.
“Bandidas” teams up two of the most popular and gorgeous actresses in the world Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz, as two completely polar opposite women whose fates collide more than they like. Roenning and Sandberg’s film excels not only in sporting a respectable cast from Dwight Yoakam (as entertaining mustache twirling villain, Mr. Jackson), Steve Zahn, and Ismael Carlo, but also wisely casts the experience of genre vet Sam Shephard in a walk on, as a reluctant confidant of the women. “Bandidas” teams the talents of Hayek and Cruz, in a very unique comedy western about two women, one a pauper, the other an aristocrat, who ventures out to seek vengeance on the men who murdered their fathers.
While on the road, they decide to rob banks in a Robin Hood mission, and are forced to comply with one another’s personality; which becomes a task for the other, and especially for the audience who have to wade through the desperate reaches for laughter. While Hayek and Cruz look incredible in this, I found it really hard to sit through as the directors force us to sit through their “chemistry” as a faux-Butch and Sundance who bicker, and yell, and scream, and cackle at one another. Besson’s script always manages to succeed in fantastic action from swinging from building to build, to a beautifully original shoot-out in the climax, while relying on good old fashioned simplistic storytelling, but sadly can never work enough to help us like its main stars.
There were many times I was prepared to slam this for the sole aspect of this vain chemistry forced down our throats. Why should we like these two shrews again? However, in a world void of truly creative films, “Bandidas” is a welcome breath of fresh air that creatively puts to use the talents of its cast in a truly gorgeous, but crude tale of revenge. And really, can you completely hate a film that features its principle stars in tight garb for most of the film, and features them as showgirls? And who hasn’t fantasized of being tied to a bed and experimented on by two gorgeous Latinas in corsets?
“Bandidas” is an entertaining action buddy comedy that admirably strives to be a neo-Butch and Sundance meets Robin Hood. Hayek and Cruz, in spite of some short comings, are fun to watch, and seem to be having a blast in their character’s skin as two adventurous women fighting against the government. Roenning and Sandberg’s direction is beautiful, and truly hearkens to the westerns of old Hollywood with zoom-ins, wide pans, and effective use of its gorgeous settings. While “Bandidas” may not win awards, I had fun, because its stars are having fun, and the talent within the film keeps it afloat as an exciting adventure romp.