(This post originally appeared in slightly different form on July 7, 2007.)
BANDIDAS isn’t your typical Western, although it has some of the traditional elements of one. You’ve got financiers and railroad tycoons plotting to steal land from poor farmers. You’ve got a pair of noble outlaws who fight back by becoming bank robbers, like Frank and Jesse James. You’ve got an arch-villain (Dwight Yoakum chewing the scenery for all he’s worth) with a bunch of evil henchmen. You’ve got beautiful, sweeping landscapes and stirring music.
But instead of the American West, this movie is set in Mexico. Instead of Frank and Jesse, or even Butch and Sundance, the outlaws are women -- Salma Hayek playing the daughter of a banker double-crossed and murdered by his partners, and Penelope Cruz as the daughter of one of those poor farmers. You’ve also got frontier forensics, a tic-tac-toe-playing horse, an adorably ugly dog, an incredibly fast pace, and a lot of well-staged action, including some running around on top of a moving train, one of my favorite types of scene (as anyone who’s read very many of my books can probably guess). Oh, and cleavage. Can’t forget the cleavage. The only actual nudity involves Steve Zahn, who plays a detective (that’s where the forensic stuff comes in, too). There’s also a catfight or two, since the characters played by Hayek and Cruz don’t get along at first, before teaming up to become famous as Las Bandidas, the Robin Hood-like bank robbers.
If you’ve read this far, you should be able to tell whether or not this is your kind of movie. I loved it. It’s not a great film, but it is a heck of a lot of fun and the same sort of thing that I try to do in some of my house-name Westerns.