Parents' Guide to

El Chicano

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Earnest but uneven Latinx crime drama is very violent.

Movie R 2019 107 minutes
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While an all-Latinx crime drama is an all-too-rare occurrence, the film's attempt to create a cool new hero feels sadly flat. Directed and co-written by stuntman Ben Hernandez Bray (DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl) and co-written by Joe Carnahan, El Chicano has good intentions and a certain amount of pride. It earnestly tries to represent its own culture on-screen, but it also tries to convey it to a wider audience, resulting in quite a bit of exposition (e.g., translating certain slang words to English). But while the filmmakers are concerned with clarity of words, they seem to care less about telling the story. They use choppy, shaky action, and a convoluted, clunky plot.

The opening flashback doesn't really make it clear which of the young boys grows up to become which adult, and other sequences are equally confusing. Plus, after appearing in the opening 10 minutes, it takes well over an hour for the Daredevil/Punisher-like El Chicano to appear again to take out a nightclub full of thugs. Despite a career in stuntwork, Bray does the usual camera-shaking and erratic editing, hiding the action rather than establishing a clear space for the characters to move in. In the end, despite some character appeal, the movie feels like a disappointment. But a dramatic appearance by Kate del Castillo toward the end suggests that at least one sequel could be on the way.

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