movie, movie review

Flashback Review: March 24th, 2014 Movie – Bandidas


I know this may come as a shock, but every now and then I do watch something other than Sci-Fi and B-movies. So a while back, when all of the Blockbuster’s were going out of business, I found myself buying all sorts of movies, with this movie being one of them. Now I will admit, I bought this because it had two people that have been in my top 5 at one point or another, but when I watched it, I realized it was a pretty funny movie. So score one for random impulsive purchases, because that honestly doesn’t happen often. So allow me to present a movie from March of 2014, Bandidas.

The plot: When a wealthy business man wishes to build a railroad through Mexico, he hires a man named Tyler Jackson to go down to Mexico and purchase the land he needs for this to happen. When Maria Alvarez learns there is nothing they can do to stop the bank from selling the mortgage for her father’s farm to Jackson, she decides to head to the local governor’s house to ask him for help. At Don Diego’s house, Don Diego is entertaining Jackson when they are interrupted by Diego’s daughter Sara Sandoval, who is interested in why Jackson is interested in the land in there area. When Maria is unable to get in to see Don Diego, she sneaks in and encounters Sara, where the two begin to argue before Maria is forced to run from the guards. In her attempt to escape, she bursts into the room and sees Jackson and Don Diego celebrating the proposed railroad and accuses Don Diego of stealing the people’s land while she is being dragged out of there and sent to jail. Some time later, Jackson and his men show up on the Alvarez farm and after telling Maria’s father Pedro that he is delinquent in his payments and they have the right to buy his land from under him, Jackson shoots Pedro when he refuses to leave and has his men torch the farmhouse. Meanwhile, Sara has gone to see and old family friend and while she is inside his house, she witnesses Jackson’s men shoot the old man but manages to get away before they can capture her. After being released from jail, Maria returns home to find her home burned down and her father shot but still alive. Maria takes her father to the local church seeking help and discovers other farmers there who were also victimized by Jackson’s men. Meanwhile, Sara returns home and finds her father dead and when she accuses Jackson of killing him and tries to attack her, he pulls a gun on her and tells her that he owns all of her father’s property now and tries to hold her captive but she manages to escape. Wanting revenge on Jackson, Sara decides to rob the local bank in order to keep Jackson from getting the money but finds that it is already being robbed by Maria, who wanted to give the money back to the farmers whose land were taken from them. As the two women begin arguing, the bank manager alerts them to an approaching Jackson and the two quickly decide to work together and grab the money before he gets there, leaving a small bundle of flowers in the vault for Jackson to find. At the church, the two women begin arguing and fighting about what to do with the money until it is broken up by Padre Pablo, who takes the two women to some caves outside town where the displaced farmers are now living. During a dinner celebration the people are having, Sara feels like they need to do more to help the people and decides they need to rob more banks. Maria is ready to do it that night and Sara says they need to prepare first and the two start to argue again until Padre Pablo stops them and says that he knows someone that might help them. He sends them to Bill Buck, who initially refuses as he feels they will bring him nothing but trouble but when Maria uses her horse to trick his horse into coming back, he reluctantly agrees. During the course of their training, with Maria turning out to be an ace shooter while Sara, who can’t shoot a gun, is an expert at throwing knives, the two girls are able to put aside their differences and work together after Sara saves Maria from drowning when she learns that Maria can’t swim. After the newly crowned “Bandidas” successfully rob several banks, the New York Bank sends Quentin Cooke, is sent in to try and use his criminal science to capture the two women. During the course of his stay, Quentin looks into the death of Don Diego for one of Diego’s old ranch hands and believes that Diego was poisoned. Quentin goes to the church to ask Padre Pablo about Sara’s relationship with her father but the priest says that Sara loved her father. Sara and Maria, who were hiding in the church, overheard the conversation and decide to pay a visit to Quentin. Disguised as showgirls, they tie Quentin up and take some pictures with him, then blackmail him into telling them what he knows about Diego’s death. When Quentin says that they are breaking the law, Maria counters that the banks are breaking the law by stealing from the people and the Bandidas take Quentin to the bank to show him the proof. While at the bank, which used to be Diego’s office, Quentin realizes the Bandidas are telling the truth and he also finds the poison that was used to kill Diego and realizes that Jackson is the one behind all of this. When some of Jackson’s men arrive, Quentin allows himself to be used as a hostage in order to help Maria and Sara escape. Hearing what happened, Jackson has more men brought in to try and find the Bandidas and guard the remaining banks. At their camp, both women find themselves attracted to Quentin and he finds himself drawn to the two women and decides to help them rob the remaining banks. Pretending to be newlyweds, Quentin and Maria get inside the bank while Sara keeps watch and is upset when Maria uses the opportunity to kiss Quentin. While Sara manages to get her horse onto the roof of the bank, Maria manages to secure the bank, killing three of the guards and locking the rest of the men outside. Then, after Quentin opens the safe, they blow a hole in the roof, taking shelter in the safe, then Sara drops a rope for them to climb out on and they make their escape. The Mexican government is concerned about keeping their money safe in banks controlled by the New York Bank but Jackson eases their concerns by showing them a new security system being installed, a pressure sensitive floor. Unaware to Jackson, Quentin and Sara, pretending to be grieving over the loss of her mother, are in the bank and learn of the new system. Getting the keys from one of the employees, Quentin uses darts to knock out one of the guards, then he and Sara use a rope to enter the top floor of the bank while Maria keeps an eye out. Reaching the vault, Sara uses a pair of ice skates to walk along the seems of the flooring to avoid setting off the alarms. When Maria sees some more men arriving at the bank, she uses the rope to head inside to warn Sara and Quentin, just as Sara accidentally sneezes, causing her to drop the money and set off the alarm. They try to get away but end up crashing into Maria and all three of them end up captured. As they are being driven towards their upcoming hanging, Maria and Sara begin arguing and Quentin yells at them to stop it, questioning why he decided to throw his career away and help them as no one would care that they die. Suddenly, gunshots are heard outside and they find themselves being rescued by Pedro, Padre Pablo, and several other farmers. When Jackson learns what is happening, he goes to the Mexican Governor and has him agree to ship the gold up north to the U.S. for safekeeping, rendering the money that the Bandidas have stolen useless. Learning about this plan, Maria suggest they rob the gold and Quentin and Sara agree with her. Loading the gold onto the train, Mr. Ashe, the owner of the Bank of New York, has come down with his daughter Clarissa, who is also Quentin’s fiance, to ensure the gold’s safety and alleviate the Governor’s concerns over it’s safety. However, when Jackson leads the Governor outside the car, who informs the Governor that he intends to keep the gold and kicks the governor off the train. Meanwhile, Quentin, Maria, and Sara managed to sneak on board the train and unhitch the car carrying Jackson’s men from the train, diverting it to another track. Meanwhile, Jackson goes back into the car with Ashe and Clarissa and explains what he is doing when Maria and Quentin show up, with Quentin trying to disguise his voice so his fiance and her father won’t recognize him. When Sara shows up and accuses Jackson of killing her father, saying she has scientific proof, Clarissa realizes how they got the proof and reveals Quentin to be one of the robbers. Jackson uses this opportunity to draw his gun and manages to wound Quentin before he is able to escape, with Maria and Sara chasing after him. Reaching the car with the gold, Jackson tries grabbing some of it before making his escape but as he is escaping on Sara’s horse, Maria calls out to her horse to stop him which is does, causing Jackson to fly off the horse and get hit in the head by one of the gold bricks. As the Bandidas approach Jackson, Sara believes they should give him to the police as killing him would make them no better than him. Deciding to just wound him, Maria pulls the trigger and realizes that she is out of bullets. Jackson uses this opportunity to pull a hidden pistol out and aims it at Maria when Sara suddenly fires her own gun and kills Jackson. After thanking Quentin for helping them, Maria and Ara watch as he kisses Clarissa and the two ride off into the sunset. When Sara comments about how the sunset reminds her of a place in Europe, Maria asks how the banks are in Europe and Sara grins before saying “bigger”, and the two quickly ride towards a new adventure.

Bandidas was met with mixed to positive reviews, earning a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics called it a good buddy comedy that was fueled by the chemistry between the two stars. Initially, the movie was supposed to be released in wide distribution across the U.S. in late 2005 but was delayed and when it was finally released, it was only released as an exclusive to the Cinema Latino Theatres chain. This resulted in it failing at the box office, earning just over $18 million off a $30 million budget.

I will admit that this movie makes me laugh every time I watch it. I’m not saying it is Airplane quality comedy but this is still a funny movie to watch. Penelope Cruz and Selma Hayek were both great in this movie and you could see their real life friendship showing in their interactions with each other. Dwight Yoakam (Jackson) made a great bad guy for this movie while Steve Zahn (Quentin) was also good as the straight man for the girl’s bumbling attempts to seduce him. The plot was pretty basic but was well written with a lot of humor both in the dialogue and in the scenes themselves. About the only negative thing I really have about this movie was towards the end, where the gunfight with Jackson in the train car was in slow motion. That was so over the top that it kind of took away from everything else that happened in the movie. Aside from that, this is an entertaining movie that is well worth giving a shot.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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