Quentin Tarantino’s got a lot to answer for. Since his Grindhouse project six years ago, he’s convinced too many aspiring filmmakers that the way into movies is pseudo-exploitation cinemas. On one level, it makes sense; exploitation is a genre born from a lack of resources. But whereas the likes of Ruggero Deodato were working against their limitations, their emulators too often use irony as a cover for juvenility. Oh, look what I’ve been asked to review.
Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman opens with lovingly recreated VHS effects and retro ‘LatinXploitation’ logo, but it doesn’t haven’t to pretend; it actually is a shit film. The Machine Gun Woman of the title (Fernanda Urrejola) is out to kill a powerful Chilean gangster. The mob boss’s line of defence is an army of hitmen, and a hapless DJ (Matías Oviedo) who just happened to overhear his plans.
Nicolas Winding Refn and Tarantino (in his better films) find what it is in the flaws of grindhouse cinema that appeal to use (the ridiculousness of concept, the melodrama, the excitement) and refine them into something that isn’t compromised by issues of taste. Ernesto Díaz, director of Machine Gun Woman, recreates everything that is problematic without a hint of analysis.
Instead, Espinoza aims for archness, but the joke isn’t funny. We’re repeatedly asked to laugh at the sexual degradation of the title character; in one scene she fellates a gun barrel, in another she climaxes as our ‘hero’ removes a bullet from her stomach. Make no mistake, ladies, this is a man’s world and your only power is as manipulators of our sexual desires.
The plot, without wit or purpose, mimics the missions in a Grand Theft Auto video game. Perhaps Espinoza imagines it’s a more modern take on Tarantino’s chaptered stories, but that feels too kind to a film otherwise so lacking in intelligence. Whatever it is, it’s unsatisfying; when GTA V was released, how many people rushed out to watch someone else play it?
Cinematographer Nicolás Ibieta doesn’t help by trying out shots like the film’s its own test reel: some work, some don’t, none of them fit together. He, like his director, attempts an ironic recreation of his favourite texts while completely missing the fact the people who created them were smarter than himself. It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect in motion.
Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman is cheap and nasty, and not in a fun way – more like a dirty kebab shop. It’s tonal mess, lacking in cohesion, imagination and maturity. The people behind it need to be cut off from their internet pornography and sent out to meet some real women – preferably on a film studies course. Failing that, bring me the head of Ernesto Díaz.
Machine Gun Woman is out in the UK on Friday 27 September