Review: Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman
Sometimes the title of a movie does all the work for you. As you’d expect, Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (BMTHOTMGW for short) is an homage/parody of 1970s exploitation flicks, much in the style of the recent(ish) grindhouse revival.
The events centre around unlucky slacker DJ Santiago Fernandez, (Matias Oviedo) who finds himself defecating in the wrong toilet, at very much the wrong time. He is tasked with tracking down the sultry Machine Gun Woman by the no good Che Sausage (yup that’s his name), but will he even survive meeting her?
This is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and it is impossible to sit through it without grinning like a loon. As Santiago, Oviedo is likeable and conveys anxiety and outright fear very well. But although it’s played straight by the actors, the overall tone is amusingly outrageous. On screen graphics flash up to show what the bounty on villains heads is currently at. Machine Gun Woman licks the face of a guy who’s brains she’s about to blow out. Wonderfully scuzzy tango bars are populated by shady characters galore (and clothing here is optional).
It’s filled with nice character moments too. A low-rent guy who runs an assassin for hire website(!) smells his shoe first before slipping it on, presumably wondering if it’s time for a new pair or a foot wash. And Santiago’s fraught interaction with his mum will be familiar to gamers the world over.
Speaking of the gaming world, it’s hard not to miss the films various tributes to Grand Theft Auto. From the obvious (GTA style mission titles appear on screen) to the more subtle (Santiago’s gun store visit, the camera angle behind the cars as they drive to and from ’missions’) Machine Gun Woman salutes the series in style.
It’s also worth mentioning the soundtrack. A combination of the best elements of 70/80s exploitation movie music, Machine Gun Woman’s score manages to be both a knowing wink to the genre and highly effective way of ramping up genuine tension. This is a very accomplished slight-of-hand trick for a movie score. Machine Gun Woman gets a very cool, guitar heavy 70s theme, while Santiago is accompanied on his misadventures by 80s synths.
The editing and sound are both very impressive and add a real visual flair to the proceedings. Jump cuts and slo-mo are used in just the right amount to achieve a flashy look that lifts the picture above it’s budget. A cool use of colour filters and grainy film stock also helps lend a consistent tone to whatever is happening on-screen. We can feel that this is a crazy universe of the directors own making.
Dialogue wise, the film does a nice line in innuendo (Santiago is obviously nervous about asking for a ‘deep oil change’ as a password) and the script keeps the straightforward plot moving along fairly quickly.
To sum up
Machine Gun Woman is a crazy ride through exploitation movie boulevard, done in a cheeky style all of its own. Whilst it might not be about anything, it is a lot of fun. Approach this with a welcoming spirit and your beverage of choice and you might find Machine Gun Woman hits the target for you.
Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD on Monday 14 October 2013.