When he happens upon the small town of El Fronteras, he wants for only two things; a glass of water and a bus ticket to Acapulco. Neither seem easy to find.
Being the only white guy in a sleepy Mexican town, The Man attracts attention wherever he goes. The shapely local bar owner Anna, the teenage petty crim who would steal his bag, the group of shifty guys who seem to be run by the police chief and pick which side of the law they are on daily.
Outside the town far, far away, Lt West (Christian Slater) tries to piece together the happenings the brought The Man to his current position, with the aim being to track him down.
The Man wants no trouble, just that damn glass of water.
There are several parallels to Desperado and this film, with only a few minor tweaks. The directing is bold, with quick cuts, flourishes and a few clever little moments. I have no idea why the film thought fit to pause and give even minor characters a title screen, they must have thought it was cool I guess.
El Gringo is fast moving, stylish and violent. Though it is no world beater it is never dull, which is a boon for a direct to dvd film.
What the film does highlight is how difficult it is to use Scott Adkins as a leading man. Adkins is handsome, physically gifted and a terrific fighter. He can also act. He would be a great bad guy, but he seems to lack the charisma and X factor required to be a leading action hero. By putting a gun in his hands for most of the action scenes, the film dilutes his strengths. By making him the peaceful stranger in a bright and vibrant town, the film highlights his deficiencies.
I like Scott Adkins – his name on the poster was what convinced me to check this out – but if this is his Wrong Bet sliding doors moment he quickly needs to talk to Jason Statham’s agent, lest he never get the chance to show his stuff beyond crappy sequels and middling stuff like this. El Gringo is like a chef working with passion and flair to make cup noodles, leaving you to wonder if the end result was worth the effort.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. When something tries this hard to be cool and falls just short, it seems worse than it is.