Making a name for yourself in the acting business in your own country is hard enough, but there’s something even more impressive to make it in the States, especially if English isn’t your first language.
Of course, much like its immigration policy, the US is very particular who they let in to their film industry. Someone who has had that good fortune is Antonia Banderas.
Having appeared in a number of Pedro Almodóvar films in his home land of Spain, his first English speaking role was in 1992’s The Mambo Kings.
Now, with nearly 120 acting credits to his name, Banderas is a renowned international star. This then, is his latest role in a US flick, which sees him looking to do the right thing on the wrong side of the law.
Finding it difficult to make a living in Miami is Stray (Mojean Aria). So it’s no surprise that he soon finds himself involved in illegal street fights to make a fast buck.
His abilities with his fists doesn’t go unnoticed however, and he soon finds himself in the office of crime boss Estelle (Kate Bosworth). She sees potential in him, despite his very rough edges, so decides to have one of her old pros Cuda (Banderas) take him under his wing.
Cuda is at the stage of his menacing career where he’s world weary, especially after just coming out of prison doing a stretch, which kept him away from his teen daughter. He takes pity on a young woman, who reminds him of his daughter, who has just arrived in the city knowing no one and not having anywhere to stay.
Little does he know that the kindness he shows her results in a truly unpleasant experience, as he and Stray go about their work. But when he learns what has happened to her, he decides that he is going to have to make amends, any which way.
At the age of 62, it seems that Banderas has reached that stage in his career when he’s not too fussy about the projects he commits to do; well it certainly looks that way if this film is anything to go by.
It’s that stage, which many actors have reached after a golden period of films, which sees legends like Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson just do any old cack for cash.
Banderas is in a slightly unique position however, as he doesn’t have to purely rely on trash US projects, as he can also still get involved in more highbrow European projects, such as his recent role in Official Competition alongside Penélope Cruz.
This is a terrible film. However, it’s a terrible film that is made well. It’s the directorial debut for Australian Richard Hughes, who shows potential despite a dreadful script. It’s the kind of poorly constructed, generic script that feels as if it was knocked up in an afternoon. In fact it’s the scriptwriter’s equivalent of the aging star, prepared to be involved in any old shit for the paycheck. Writer W. Peter IIiff got lucky writing 1991’s Point Break, and has been dining out on that for some time, but has clearly been found out for being the hack he is, as this is the first script of his to see daylight since writing and directing something tragic called Rites of Passage in 2012.
But if you ignore the awful dialogue, and you must ignore it, and the flimsy premise, Banderas comes out of it pretty well. He still looks good, especially in his suits as seen here, with a performance that doesn’t deserve to be in such a bland film.
He’s not the only thing that looks good however, as there is some pleasing cinematography, with both Hughes and his DP making Miami look its best. As well as some nice grizzly violent scenes, of which there aren't nearly enough of.
For Banderas, this is the kind of film to illustrate he’s still got what it takes, and that he’s capable and more than ready for his Taken moment; it’s a moment that reinvented Liam Neeson, giving him a second career as an action hero, and this film, although dreadful, proves that the Spaniard has his own set of particular skills that could take him on a similar trajectory. As long as he keeps away from doing tripe like this, that is.