This was a solid and highly enjoyable take on the spaghetti western by Rodriguez that rightfully put the director on the map and provided star Antonio Banderas the breakthrough he needed in the American marketplace. Though I love his work on the Sin City films, particularly the first, his incredible earlier trilogy will always hold a special place in my cinephilic heart. My recent project of coming to terms with classic Westerns has only further helped me enjoy these more recent contemporary releases.
Filipe Manuel Neto
**Action, shots, bullets and… “latinxploitation”?** I confess that I expected something more from this film. I was left with the feeling that it has little to offer us other than two tons of spectacular action scenes, with explosions, hundreds of gunshots and some gratuitous destruction. Even more: it reminded me of those films from the 70s, which we call “blaxploitation” because they reinforced a series of stereotypes about the African-American community: if we pay attention, we have almost all the stereotypes attributed to Latinos and Mexicans-Americans. In general, I'm not a fan of political correctness and I don't care about stereotypes! I deal with this well, being a proud Portuguese who was born and lives in a Latin country, but I am in solidarity with those who, especially in the USA, suffer from prejudices about the Latin community, a vast community that encompasses Castilian and Portuguese speakers, forgetting, interestingly, that Italian Americans are also culturally Latino. Robert Rodríguez is Latino and makes films that reflect that. I think he must be a man proud of his roots, and I think that's magnificent. We must have this pride. Therefore, I think he made this film in that spirit, but my doubts lie in this: a film with so much violence, with so much to do with drugs and crime, was it good or bad for Latinos? António Banderas is one of the greatest Spanish actors of all time and easily transitioned to Hollywood, where his career took on stratospheric proportions. Here, he did an interesting job, mixing a bit of Latin lover with gangster and Zorro. He has the right profile and was a good choice. I also really enjoyed seeing Joaquim de Almeida, my compatriot, in what was the best North American film he has made to date (and I think that productions could really invest more in this actor, I think he has talent and ability). Steve Buscemi adds a friendly touch to the film, and Danny Trejo and Tarantino make brief, innocuous appearances. Salma Hayek, another good actress, unfortunately just has to be sexy and hot in bed. That's not enough. I don't know what the production budget was, but it doesn't seem like a cheap film to me because the number of strong names in the industry in this project is considerable and no one, nowadays, works for free. We also have a good special effects department, with great capacity and creativity: the sets are very realistic and the film's action scenes are very well thought out and executed. As an action film, it works impeccably and is a delight for fans. The script, unfortunately, is much less interesting, with too many stereotypes, weaknesses, clichés and insipid dialogues.
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