Oh, where to start? Bandido is a horrible film. The decision to release it the same week Ocean's Twelve arrives in theaters makes it look worse. Both are about crooks, but Ocean's Twelve is so far ahead of Bandido that it's ridiculous. All of the posters proclaim that Bandido is from the star of El Mariachi, which is true Carlos Gallardo (Eastside, Bravo) starred in El Mariachi, stars in Bandido, and wrote the story. What it neglects to mention is that Gallardo was not responsible creatively for El Mariachi. This goes to Robert Rodriguez, who has gone on to much acclaim. So here's movie from an actor, which means that odds are it is not good.

Gallardo also has the wrong build for the role. He's pretty normal looking. The typical action hero has buff arms, chest, and defined abs. Gallardo is strong, but not cut. A good thief should be lean and wiry. Gallardo isn't. Worse, director Roger Christian (Battlefield Earth, Masterminds) puts too much makeup on him, enough that it's obvious. As a result, Max Cruz, aka Bandido, the best thief in the world, looks very, uh, metrosexual. Not the best look for a master thief. He plays opposite Angie Everheart (The Real Deal, Heart of Stone), who looks like she's at least half a foot taller than him. Instead of making Everheart look freakishly tall (she's only 5'10"), it makes Gallardo look even tinier. And while Everheart still looks amazing, she is probably a decade too late to make any sort of viable name for herself in action films.

The plot of Bandido has many comic elements to it, but still takes itself too seriously. And it's too muddled to understand. Gallardo wrote the screenplay with Scott Duncan and Ned Kerwin (Outta Time), and it has a B movie feel to it. It may work better as an action-comedy, but the trio decided for a more serious tone. As a result, they concoct a script where the CIA frames Cruz for a murder. In exchange for exonerating his name, Cruz agrees to steal a disk of information from Mexican crimelord Beno (Kim Coates, Open Range, Black Hawk Down). Beno's girlfriend (Ana La Salvia, To Love Too Much) bathes in milk and wants to be a singer, but falls for Cruz and somehow morphs into a gun-toting action babe. Everheart tags along to keep an eye on him, but they literally manage to walk right in to Beno's estate.

Obviously much of the cast speaks English as a second language. Badly. To listen to Mexican gangsters, policemen, and others speaking in broken English looks and sounds dumb. Why not just have them speak in Spanish and add some subtitles? It would at least lend an aura of authenticity to a film where blank green paper that should be money falls from various safes. Christian opts for slow motions shots too many times, and it's important to note that this is his follow-up to Battlefield Earth. Well, after that, there's really nothing left to say.

Mongoose Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated R for violence, language, and brief nudity.

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