‘Bad Hombres’ Jolts B-Movie Template

Invigorating look at immigration, crime pushes past woke expectations

One of the many problems plaguing woke films is predictability. 

Audiences often know what to expect given how Hollywood progressives view the world.

It’s one reason “Bad Hombres” is both fresh and relentlessly surprising. 

The thriller follows an illegal immigrant who becomes enmeshed in a world of violence and revenge. The film follows essential B-movie beats but upends expectations on more than a few occasions.

Bad Hombres - Official Trailer

Diego Tinoco stars as Felix, an Ecuadorian who just entered America through the porous southern border. He’s eager to bring his family along with him.

For now, he has to learn how to find work, and fast.

He takes a job digging holes for a local loudmouth (Luke Hemsworth) and his silent partner (Paul Johansson), joining forces with a fellow immigrant named Alfonso (Hemky Madera) in the process. Alfonso has a truck and a surly attitude, but a gig’s a gig.

The assignment proves more treacherous than Felix expected, and suddenly he’s part of a larger, violent game that could end his immigrant dreams in a hurry.

We’ll say no more to let audiences experience the sharp twists on their own. Just know the story expands to include the reliable Thomas Jane as a man with mysterious connections and too little screen time for “Furious” regular Tyrese Gibson.

It’s really about Felix and Alfonso’s survival instincts.

Director John Stalberg, Jr. (“Muzzle“) dabbles in Tarantino-like tones, but he never leans on style over substance. A few sequences are shot from intriguing angles, an approach that draws us in without calling attention to itself.

One scene follows a killer stalking his prey through a small house, but the camera remains still while the monster moves about the rooms. The sounds flesh out what’s happening, but there’s something sinister about not seeing it all go down.

Screenwriters Nick Turner and Rex New have fun with our sensitive age without being preachy or predictable. Hemsworth character isn’t to be trifled with, but he takes great pains not to offend those around him.

It’s a neat tic for a larger-than-life goon.

Turner and New also won’t turn the immigrant characters into noble souls, demanding our sympathy from the jump. Alfonso is willing to bare his teeth as often as necessary. Felix’s pluck is admirable, but his character develops a thicker skin the deeper he drowns in the muck.

“Bad Hombres” is patient to a fault. That means some sequences take time to play out, but we’re so invested in the characters’ journey that we’ll go along with the ride. The rewards are palpable, including several twists you won’t see coming.

Jane’s character may be too connected for the story’s own good, but he brings an earthy spirit to every film he touches. Gibson’s character gets a great introduction that lacks the follow-up it deserves, a victim of the movie’s otherwise crisp run time.

“Bad Hombres” shows the harsh realities behind illegal immigration without judgment. It is what it is, and let the politicians and pundits squabble over the matter. The situation remains ripe for storytellers, at least ones looking well past Hollywood’s conventional wisdom.

HiT or Miss: “Bad Hombres” has a laconic style that takes some getting used to, but the jolts of creative violence make it more than worth your while.

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