In 1848, a New York bank wants to put a railroad across Mexico, so it buys up small banks around Santa Rita, Durango, and evicts farmers on the proposed rail line who owe money. The bank's henchman is the murderous Jackson. He runs afoul of two women, María, the tough but uneducated daughter of a farmer, and Sara, the European-educated daughter of the owner of one of these banks. To feed the now landless people and to seek revenge, María and Sara become bank robbers, veritable Robin Hoods. But Jackson and his hired guns are after them. What are the women's options? Written by
In the film the character played by Penelope Cruz is the daughter of a Mexican farmer. In reality Cruz is from Spain. Selma Hayek's character in turn plays the daughter of a Don who has just returned from Spain. Hayek herself was born in Mexico. See more »
All roles in this movie are seen brandishing breech-loading pistols, which were not available in the Western Hemisphere until the .22 caliber short Smith and Wesson Model 1 in 1857. Larger bore breech loading firearms (such as all firearms shown in the movie) and ammunition for them came several years later. See more »
It may be a premature statement, writing this in February of 2006, but "Bandidas" is one of the most entertaining films of the year. Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek are wonderful together as the sexy bank-robbers hell-bent on revenge and justice.
I suppose you could call this film a guilty pleasure. There is nothing substantial here... It is merely a lightweight action adventure with barrels of laughs and two primo-examples of eye candy. But of the 200+ entertainment-only movies in 2006, it is virtually assured that this film will be one of the better examples.
I was reminded a great deal of the cheerful tone and style that was evident in the Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster comedy, "Maverick". Add a sprinkle of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and you are rewarded with this Luc Besson penned screenplay.
After a short opening, displaying the investigative skills of Steve Zahn's character, the film introduces us to Penelope Cruz's Maria playing Tic Tac Toe with her horse in the dirt. It is one of many scenes in "Bandidas" that hearkens the silliness of Laurel & Hardy. Maria is a small-town Mexican farm girl who confesses that all she really knows about is horses and chickens. She is a dreamer and an idealist.
Her counterpoint is Salma Hayek's Sara... An educated heiress who has just returned from University in Europe. She is a thinker and a realist.
When Dwight Yoakam's evil land robber swoops in to take the money and land away from the locals, killing Sara's father and severely injuring Maria's, the girls team up to avenge their people and get the land back. By robbing the banks owned by the railroading thieves' American investors, the girls cause slapstick havoc across the Mexican landscape.
After getting some 'training' from Sam Shepard's character, which includes a gratuitous push-ups scene in the local stream, the girls feel ready to try some elaborate heists.
None of this is remotely realistic. At no point will you ever really be able to suspend your disbelief. This film plays more like a Laurel & Hardy film than anything else. We are only supposed to enjoy the interaction and comedic timing of these gorgeous babes (best friends in real life -- and it shows) as they pretend to fire guns, splash through any on-hand body of water, blow stuff up, and seduce Steve Zahn on numerous occasions. In fact, considering one specific scene, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Steve Zahn did this film pro bono.
There are some truly inventive and hilarious moments in this film. Consider the train shoot-out... a slow-motion sequence that was brilliantly shot with a special effects technique that I hadn't seen before. Also consider the wit of the 'banjo-tuning' scene. It was perfectly timed.
This film has tons of memorable moments: the church catfight; the horse climbing a ladder; the brothel kisses. It is packed with entertainment value and deserves a bigger audience than it will ultimately get. Penelope and Salma have great chemistry, exuding illegal amounts of sex-appeal and equal doses of hilarity. "Bandidas" is silly fluff that typically gets panned by critics like me... but I went with this one because it doesn't take itself at all seriously and because I never once thought to look at my watch. This is a breezy 93-minutes that will leave your face aching from smiling so much.
TC Candler IndependentCritics.com
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