Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The Man (Scott Adkins) has no name.  Why doesn’t he have a name?  Because it seems to be de rigueur to make your action hero in recent action films nameless.  It would’ve been no trouble at all for somebody in this movie, folks who know The Man very well, to at some point say ‘Harold!  It’s a setup!’ or ‘Bart!  I found you man!’ but here he has no name so we’re going to roll with that because we don’t have much of a choice.  So the nameless dude… Chet we’ll call him because I realize I do have a choice in the matter as a U.S. American… is in Mexico.  He’s a DEA officer, he’s just burnt up some fat guy to death who has done him terribly wrong, he’s gone and faked his own death and he has a satchel full of cash that he’s carting around the desert.  Since he is a Caucasian U.S. American in Mexico, to them he will be ‘El Gringo’, another entry into the After Dark Action series of films. 

What Chet really needs when he makes it to the dusty town of El Fronteras is a glass a water.  That’s it.  Damn near impossible to get.  First he has to deal with the little chiquita Flaca (Sofia Sisneaga) who will attempt to steal his bag.  You might want to get used to Flaca trying to steal this bag in this movie because she will do this over and over again.  Theft thwarted, now Chet makes his way to the local cantina run by the unnaturally hot Anna (Yvette Yates) because unnaturally hot women run various establishments in empty towns all the time.  At least in the movies they do.  Anna won’t give him a glass of water, even though I have the sneaking suspicion she will be giving him something else a little later on.  She’s hot and all, but given the option of water would be preferable right about now.  Eventually Chet gets his water, Anna allows him to sleep upstairs for the evening so he can catch the first bus out this town on his way to sunny Acapulco to live out the rest of his days in tourist trap heaven.

That’s not gonna happen because this town is run by some weirdoes who wear skeleton make up.  All the time.  The slimy sheriff in this little town (Erando Gonzalez) has discovered that the bag contains a bunch of money and has dispatched his top lieutenant Culebra (Israel Islas) to get it from him.   Also complicating matters is that Chet’s boss (Christian Slater) doesn’t believe he’s dead and wants to know what went down in the desert and why all of his fellow officers are dead. 

Getting this money from Chet will be a challenge, to say the least, because Chet has mad skills when it comes to killing Mexicans.  The nation of Mexico should be seriously upset with Chet because he’s thinned out the male population considerably with his handguns, shotguns, machineguns, and fists of thunder.  Still, he’s not home free.  There’s the pretty girl at the cantina, and you don’t put a woman who looks like that in movie like this unless she’s going to be in some serious danger and be in need of some serious rescuing.  Then there’s his boss who looks like Christian Slater which means he looks mighty untrustworthy.  Seems a little unfair, Chet versus two hundred heavily armed, brutally violent Mexican gangsters… but at least the gangsters try to the best they can.

Director Eduardo Rodriguez’s ‘El Gringo’ isn’t a bad action movie.  Not at all.  Plus it was more entertaining than the other After Dark Action vehicle he directed ‘Stash House’.  The problem with ‘El Gringo’ that I had, and this has absolutely nothing to do with this movie itself, is that I watched Mel Gibson’s ‘Get the Gringo’ the day before I watched ‘El Gringo’ and then I watched the Indonesian action epic ‘The Raid: Redemption’ the day after I watched ‘El Gringo’.  That’s extremely unfortunate because ‘Get the Gringo’ was damn good and ‘The Raid: Redemption’ was damn great.  ‘El Gringo’ is damn okay, and damn okay didn’t measure up all that well by comparison.

Now putting those other two movies out of our minds for now, as difficult as that may be, there are some good things going on in ‘El Gringo’.  Scott Adkins is a legitimate action star, and he has been for a while but he’s also becoming more confidant as an actor flashing a little charm and a touch of style to his already legendary lightning quick fighting moves, and he kept his British accent in check for the most part.  He even showed a touch of being a bit of a romantic lead as he and his co-star Yvette Yates had some legitimate chemistry between them.  Admittedly it shouldn’t be all that difficult to generate a little heat with a woman as attractive as Ms. Yates happens to be, but we have seen attractive people in movies not being able to pull that off.

The action sequences were decent, if not somewhat repetitive relying too much on gunplay when Adkins is at his action best when performing hand to hand combat, but the narrative was fairly rudimentary, just something to stitch together the various action set pieces.  The pacing was also erratic as the movie had lulls in it, then hyper action, the another lull and this was the way it would play out through its slightly overlong running time.

Again, ‘El Gringo’ wasn’t a bad action film, it just had the misfortune of being sandwiched in between a couple of action films that exacerbated this one’s flaws. 

Real Time Web