Combustible Celluloid
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With: Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Steve Zahn, Dwight Yoakam, Denis Arndt, Audra Blaser, Sam Shepard, Ismael 'East' Carlo, Gary Cervantes, Jose Maria Negri, Lenny Zundel, Edgar Vivar, Ernesto Gomez Cruz, Filiberto Estrella, Yomo Tlazotlalli
Written by: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by: Joachim Roenning, Espen Sandberg
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, nudity and violence
Running Time: 93
Date: 01/18/2006

Bandidas (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The same year Penelope Cruz earned her first Oscar nomination for Volver, she also starred in this fun Western, which opened sporadically in Europe and went straight to DVD in the U.S. Cruz co-stars with her real-life pal Salma Hayek, who plays a spoiled, educated banker's daughter. Cruz plays a naïve farmer's daughter. Though the girls start out on the wrong foot, they quickly find they're on the same side when a greedy, snaky U.S. businessman (Dwight Yoakam) hatches an evil plan to take over several Mexican banks. Steve Zahn co-stars as a helpful, nerdy scientist/detective. Bandidas comes from writer/producer Luc Besson, and it has the same kind of brisk, lightweight comic action as films like Wasabi (2001) and The Transporter (2002). Of course, most of it is pretty routine but Cruz and Hayek bring great portions of goodwill to the proceedings. One suspenseful scene involving scaling between two buildings on a rope, set to the music of an out-of-tune banjo, had me giggling and applauding. Sam Shepard also stars as a veteran bank robber who trains the girls. (Sorry, guys... the "nudity" referred to in the MPAA rating is in reference to Zahn, not Cruz or Hayek.)

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