El Chicano (2019)

El Chicano (2019) Cover

Prepare yourself for the epic tale of El Chicano, where a Mexican-American police officer solves all of his problems at work and at home by killing everyone he doesn’t like. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds awful; but, don’t worry, El Chicano is just regular bad. With weak acting, bland writing, and just generally boring pacing the film wastes its opportunities to be anything interesting.

For everything terrible you could say about the deeply problematic premise of El Chicano, I think diving too deeply into the poorly thought out authoritarian ideas it explores is a waste of time. Yes, it’s about a police-sanctioned killer murdering criminals without trial, and sure that’s bad, but it’s just so boring that I could barely care. Honestly, I don’t know how you can take a story about a man taking on the mantle of a supernatural vigilante killer and distill it down to something so snooze-worthy.

And it’s not like this comes from a place of complete incompetence on the part of director Ben Hernandez Bray. There are quite a few moments where Ben captures some interesting perspectives with the camera, but they’re so flat and lifeless that you couldn’t be blamed for missing it. The first time El Chicano makes an appearance in the film the camera shows his actions from two sides as he physically divides the protagonist and antagonist. It’s a clever use of physical space as a metaphor for the emotional division of the characters that is completely wasted on this melatonin pill of a film.

The only real achievement of El Chicano is managing to pick out the mildest Chicano art I have ever seen. We’re talking about a culture with some of the most beautiful and colorful works of art in North America, blended with an intense historical background of struggle in both Mexico and America that is drowning in identity and Ben put a couple of low rent Aztec icons in the background of some frames. It’s such an amazing task that it’s almost applaudable if you can keep your eyes open long enough to appreciate it.

I can’t possibly recommend El Chicano to anyone unless you’re just desperate for low rent Peppermint. There is potentially appeal on the grounds of representation for everyone who ever watched a vigilante serial killer and wanted to see themselves in those shoes. I cannot deny the enticing power of getting heroes that you can physically identify with. As people, we’re hard-wired for that kind of validation. Or, I guess… if you really need help sleeping. But there has to be a better movie for even that.

Final Verdict:Too boring and bland to even hate as much as it deserves.