Will Ferrell displays admirable gumption by performing in Spanish in this Mel Brooks-style spoof of grainy old Mexican B-westerns. It's just a pity that the film itself isn't a little funnier.
Ferrell plays Armando Álvarez, a handsome but seemingly very dim-witted cowboy who shows his heroic side in the final reel. As ever, Ferrell's trick is to play it very straight, regardless of the frequently absurd situations in which he finds himself. He enunciates his lines with pedantic clarity, as if he's in an educational video for foreign students who want to learn Spanish.
Business partners and regular collaborators Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna enjoy themselves in pantomime-style roles. Bernal is a drug baron with a hyena-like laugh while Luna is Armando's handsome but very dissolute brother – a sleazy charmer who never loses his poise even as the bullets whistle round him.
The director throws in occasional impressive visual flourishes, among them a Peckinpah-style massacre at a wedding that is so ferociously violent it risks undercutting the comic mood. Unfortunately, neither the slapstick nor the dialogue have any spice or spark about them at all.