February 17, 2024
by Carla Hay
Directed by John Stalberg Jr.
Some language in Spanish with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in New Mexico, the action film “Bad Hombres” features Latino and white characters (with a few African Americans) representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: An undocumented immigrant and a ranch worker go on the run from a ruthless criminal and his nephew, who have committed murder.
Culture Audience: “Bad Hombres” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in action films that are nothing but mindless “shoot ’em up” flicks.
“Bad Hombres” is a soulless and violent 21st century Western that is just a bunch of terribly staged chase scenes, obnoxious characters and cliché-filled shootouts. It’s time-wasting junk that has nothing interesting to show or tell. There’s not much that is worth remembering because the movie doesn’t have much of a story.
Directed by John Stalberg Jr. and written by Rex New and Nick Turner, “Bad Hombres” was filmed on location in New Mexico. It’s where an undocumented Ecuadoran immigrant named Felix (played by Diego Tinoco) has illegally crossed over the border into the United States, because he’s searching for work and a better life. In the beginning of the movie, Felix is in a group of other adult migrants who are waiting in a parking lot and hoping to be chosen for a roofing job. Felix is with a friend named Oscar (played by Steve Louis Vellegas), who is among those who are selected.
Felix is not chosen for the job. He’s dejected by not completely discouraged. Felix goes into a nearby True Value hardware store to fill up a bottle with water at a public drinking fountain. A store employee (played by Kevin Moccia) yells at Felix, “You can’t solicit in here!,’ even though Felix isn’t selling anything and is minding his own business. There are racial undertones to this employee’s hostile reaction because the employee is white, and Felix is Hispanic.
A customer nearby notices that Felix is being harassed, so the customer shames the employee to stop harassing Felix. The employee then backs off and leaves Felix alone. This seemingly helpful customer is a native of Australia. His name is Donnie (played by Luke Hemsworth), and he strikes up a conversation with Felix. From this conversation, Donnie finds out that this is Felix’s first day in the United States.
Donnie (who is talkative to the point of being very irritating) correctly assumes that Felix is an undocumented immigrant when it becomes obvious that Felix is looking for a job that can pay in cash. Donnie says that he has an uncle who’s a ranch owner looking to hire someone to do some work at the ranch. Donnie says that his uncle is a “conspiracy nut” but is mostly harmless.
Felix eagerly takes this job offer without getting many details of what type of job he will be doing, except knowing that it will involve manual labor. The person who gives Felix a ride to the ranch is another ranch employee named Alfonso (played by Hemky Madera), who happens to be waiting in the parking lot of True Value. Alfonso is standoffish when Felix tries to start a conversation with him. Of course, Felix finds out too late that this job offer is too good to be true.
At the ranch, which is in a desert area, Donnie’s uncle Steve Hoskins (played by Paul Johansson) bizarrely sits in a car parked outside and watches as Donnie, Alfonso and Felix talk nearby. Felix is told that the job he has to do will be digging large holes in the hard ground. A little later, Donnie shows he’s actually a racist when he says to Felix in a taunting voice about how to pronounce Latinx: “Hey, Felix. I forgot to ask you: Is it ‘Latin-ex’ or ‘Latin-inks’?”
An unnamed rancher (played by Kevin Carrigan) rides up on a horse and demands to know what these four men are doing there, because he says that all four of them are trespassing on his private property. Donnie says that they are there to bury four bodies, which will now be five bodies. Steve then shoots and kills the unnamed rancher. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.
Alfonso overtakes Steve and kicks him so hard that he passes out. Alfonso then stabs Donnie in the head with a pick axe. Donnie shoots at Alfonso and Felix, as Alfonso and Felix drive away in Steve’s car. Felix has been shot in his right leg. Despite the serious injuries sustained by Steve and Donnie, you just know it’s not going to be the last you’ll see of these two villains. The rest of the movie is essentially about Steve and Donnie trying to find and kill Alfonso and Felix.
Some of the people who get caught up in this mayhem are Alfonso’s friend Rob Carlton (played by Thomas Jane); Rob’s friend Dr. Dean “Growler” Graulich (played by Nick Cassavetes); and a killer listed in the end credits as The Man With No Name (played by Tyrese Gibson). That’s really all there is to this simple-minded story, where all the characters are two-dimensional and utterly tedious, with stale or non-existent personalities. “Bad Hombres” is a film lacking in originality or the ability to make viewers really care about any of the characters. In the end, it’s a movie that is as empty as an unloaded gun.
Screen Media released “Bad Hombres” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD on January 26, 2024. The movie will be released on DVD on March 12, 2024.