Thursday, September 10, 2015

Acción Mutante (Álex de la Iglesia, 1993)

You know the future is bleak when the majority of the world's population are wearing welding goggles as everyday eye-wear. You could say, the future's so bleak, that you gotta wear welding goggles. But I won't say that. Why won't I being saying that, even though I sort of just did, you ask? Trust me, the key to attracting a younger demographic is not achieved by making references to Timbuk 3. The same goes for Digital Poodle (their lead singer, Mouth 392, was famous for wearing welding goggles as everyday eye-wear back in the day). No, if you want to attract young people to whatever it is you're doing (whether it be music, film or literature), you need to constantly talk about nylons, the colour taupe, Uzi's, leggy floozies, iridescent liquid, industrial bands from 1980s (preferably of the Belgian variety), and, most importantly, welding goggles. In other words, things young people like. Do these things, and I guarantee you'll have the Miley Cyrus generation eating out of the palm of your taint. And that's another thing, talk about your taint a lot. Kids love that. Anyway, looking over the things I listed that one should mention when trying to lure young people, it would seem that Álex de la Iglesia's Acción Mutante, while it doesn't feature all of them, it does boast two of the most important ones. And those are, of course, nylons and welding goggles.

You could say that nylons and welding goggles are the perfect metaphor for the class war that takes place in this film. Depicting a world where the poor are all members of heavily armed criminal gangs (who all wear welding goggles even when not welding), and the rich throw lavish parties complete with robot security guards, and, if you're lucky, a fully functional, fully fabulous Rossy de Palma (everyone's legs, including Rossy's, are sheathed in the silkiest nylons lot's of money can buy), writer-director Álex de la Iglesia covers some of the same ground he did in the equally awesome Perdita Derango. And, yes, trust me, Acción Mutante is awesome.

Now, I could easily list a bunch of movies that clearly influenced the Spanish director. But I don't feel like doing that at this particular juncture. And besides, most of the movies are the kind I don't want sullying my... Okay, I'll mention RoboCop... and The Ice Pirates. Yeah, those are all right. As for the rest, fuck them.

Either way, none of the films that influenced Álex de la Iglesia come anywhere close to matching the sheer insanity he manages to throw at the screen. Call it Almodóvar in space (Almodóvar, by the way, is listed as a producer), call it the Spanish Mad Max, call it what you will, Acción Mutante has more than enough going for it to be able to stand tall next to the greats of cult cinema.

Accidentally killing the rich fat fuck they planned on kidnapping by suffocating him with a ball gag, the leaderless members of Acción Mutante, a gang of thugs who repeatedly kick society in the culo (at least they try to), are clearly in a bit of a funk as of late. Unable to carry out a mission without screwing up, it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that they need a leader.

The answer to their prayers arrives shortly after the botched kidnapping attempt when their fearless leader, Ramón Yarritu (Antonio Resines), is released from prison (he just finished serving a five year sentence).

Picking him up from prison in an ice cream truck are Alex and Juan Abadie (Álex Angulo y Juan Viadas), Siamese twins; César 'Quimicefa' Ravenstein (Saturnino García), who floats on a hovering platform; José Óscar 'Manitas' Tellería (Karra Elejalde), an engineer of some kind; Amancio 'M.A.' González (Alfonso Martínez), the gang's muscle and, apparently, the owner of the world's lowest I.Q.; and José 'Chepa' Montero (Ion Gabella), a gay hunchback little person.

Ahh, so many Spanish names. At this moment my brain probably resembles an under-cooked pile of paella.

Judging by what we see as Acción Mutante's ice cream truck cruises through town, it would appear that they're living in a police state.

Wasting little time, Ramón, who, from looks of it, has been hatching this plan for quite awhile now, puts forth a scheme to kidnap Patricia Orujo (Frédérique Feder), the daughter of  Mr. Orujo (Fernando Guillén), the owner of one of the country's biggest bakery companies, on her wedding day.

Pretending to be bakers, the idea is to bring a giant cake to the wedding. It's simple enough plan, when the Siamese twins play "Aires de fiesta" by Karina on the jukebox, that's M.A.'s cue to turn off the lights. When this occurs, the gay hunchback little person should pop out of the cake with guns blazing. As the gay hunchback little person is filling the guests (including Rossy de Palma) with lead, Ramón is supposed to grab Patricia and then make a clean getaway.

Of course, none of it goes according to plan. Oh, sure, lot's of people are filled with lead and Patricia is eventually kidnapped, but... You know what? Despite a few minor hiccups here and there, I think everything worked out for the best. I mean, the plan involved kidnapping a leggy bakery heiress, and that's exactly what they did.

(Wait, you didn't say anything about the bakery heiress being leggy.)

Do you really think I would bother reviewing a movie if it didn't feature a leggy bakery heiress? C'mon. You know me better than that.

Taking unexpected turn, Acción Mutante suddenly becomes an interstellar space adventure, as we're whisked aboard the Virgen del Carmen, Acción Mutante's giant spaceship. The second part of the plan involves rendezvousing on some planet with Mr. Orujo so that he can pay the 100 million dollar ransom. Only problem being, Ramón told the members of Acción Mutante they were getting 10 million. Actually it only becomes a problem when they hear about the 100 million dollar ransom on the news. Anyway, this, as you might expect, causes some serious trust issues to arise.

Even though  Ramón reassures the rest of Acción Mutante that the media were merely trying to cause dissension in the ranks, he decides right then and there that he no longer needs them.

If you're wondering what happened to the concept of "honour among thieves"? It's obvious that spending the last five years watching nothing but tabloid television in prison has warped Ramón's value system. You could view this as Álex de la Iglesia's way of saying that the media can corrupt anyone; even the leader of Acción Mutante.

When the Virgen del Carmen crash lands on a womanless mining planet, Ramón throws Patricia out of the ship like a ragdoll, grabs her by the hair and proceeds to drag her to the Garcia Bar (the location of the planned rendezvous with Mr. Orujo).

Given that the crash caused the staples that kept Patricia's mouth shut to fall out, Patricia begins to express herself verbally for the first time since she was initially kidnapped. Much to the chagrin of Ramón, who just wants to collect his ransom and be on his merry way.

In order to complicate Ramón's journey to Garcia Bar, the script throws a few roadblocks at him to keep things interesting. My favourite roadblock being Patricia's sexy legs. I know, it's not really a roadblock in the classic sense of the word, but I like to think Patricia's sexy, stocking-encased legs were the cause of at least some stress.

Still wearing her wedding dress, the sight of Patricia's begrimed white stockings (with grayish tops) glimmering in the desert heat is what makes Acción Mutante the classic that it is today. It's as simple as that. Oh, and the other roadblock, the one involving a lovesick Alex (Juan, his Siamese twin, was murdered by Ramón), was cool, too.


  1. Replies
    1. I rented it at Eyesore Cinema... it was just sitting there in the sci-fi section. :D

  2. His new one is awesome, Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi, aka Witching and Bitching...highly recommend it! I laughed my ass off! I saw Accion Mutante a million years ago and don't remember much about it except that I remember it looked really cheap, de La Iglesia is making much better movies these days I suppose. I need to give this one the old re-watch, it was early in his career.

    1. I think I saw Witching and Bitching on the shelf at Eyesore... I'll have to grab it one of these days.

    2. Wait, this is the same director who did Witching and Bitching? That one's on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite movies; although I still feel that whoever gave it the American release title should be burned at the stake.