A film written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen ("The Fifth Element") and starring the pairing of Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, one would think that there'd be some interest in "Bandidas". However, the film - at least according to the Internet Movie Database, is making its debut on DVD. It's too bad, as while certainly not a flawless picture, this is a largely enjoyable little adventure of a film that deserved better.
The story's simple and straightforward: a ruthless American named Tyler Jackson (Dwight Yoakam) has come to Mexico to steal land and other possessions from the people, including the fathers of poor girl Maria (Cruz) and rich girl Sara (Hayek), both of whom were killed by Jackson. The two girls wind up pairing up with one another and decide to rob banks before Jackson can get his hands on the cash.
"Bandidas", despite a few dramatic moments, is about as fluffy and lightweight as it gets. There's little to the plot, which even includes a supporting turn from Steve Zahn as a detective that's so minor it seems almost pointless. Hayek and Cruz, who are friends in real life and have good chemistry with one another, turn in performances that are just goofy (there's a number of cartoonish slap fights between the two) enough to be entertaining and not ridiculous.
One wishes that Besson had decided to direct the picture as well, as co-directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg don't give the picture the kind of visual flair it needs (and a "Matrix"-like final action sequence just doesn't fit with the rest of the movie, seeming absurd.) Given that the story's been done, it's up to Hayek and Cruz to carry the movie. While they don't turn "Bandidas" into anything resembling a classic, they are fun to watch together and hopefully the two will work on another project in the future.
VIDEO: "Bandidas" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered reasonably fine image quality, with some minor artifacting being the main concern. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy will likely offer differing (and hopefully even better) image quality.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound design was generally about as straightforward as the film itself, with the surrounds really only coming into play during a few action scenes and occasionally for some mild ambience. Audio quality was terrific, with crisp dialogue, a full, rich sounding score and punchy effects.
EXTRAS: Actresses Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz offer an audio commentary for the film. The track does have some gaps of silence, but when the duo do chat, they offer a funny and honest look into the production, chatting about working with the cast (and their friendship that occured during filming), the different locations, stories from the set and what attracted them to the project. We also get a "making of" featurette and the trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Bandidas" isn't particularly original and it's rather thin, but Hayek and Cruz make an enjoyable team and fans of the actresses should try this one out as a rental.
The Film B-