Like that film, Pistoleros has a spirit and energy that oozes out of every frame, going a long way in selling the material. It's got gun fights, a heist, double crosses, slo-mo punches, bullets frozen mid-trajectory and lots of flashbacks--all steeped in Old West atmosphere (I kinda dig the sepia tone-like shots, which show up a few times). In the present day framing device, director Martin joins producer Camilla in making a short film about the infamous Frank Lowies (Erik Holmey), a gangster who gets nabbed by the police after a heist gone wrong. There's a myth that he was able to hide 5 million in cash before his incarceration. And a tattoo he has--along with those on three other people--may be a treasure map to the stolen stash, which a lot of people are suddenly after.
The filmmakers sit down in a bar with the shady Crazy Uffe (Dennis Haladyn), who begins to tell the tale of what happened--in part via a flashback of him telling the story to another criminal. The timeline is played with and the story jumps around, and it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is certain, especially when a man named Krelle (Thure Lindhardt) shows up to provide the filmmakers with more story. Who's lying? Is there really any hidden money, or is it just an urban legend?
A large cast of suspicious characters are along for the ride: Frank's sons Sonny (Daniell Edwards) and Brian (Dennis Riedel); Frank's brother Kurt (Mike Andersen) and niece Tina (Sofie Lassen-Kahlke); Ramirez (Hector Vega Mauricio), one of the gangsters looking for the loot; Tuki (Salah El Koussa), a weapons dealer; and English stripper Michelle (Claire Ross-Brown), whose tattoo may hold the key. But it's Shameer (Mustafa Ali) who is the shadiest of them all, and the most dangerous--especially with his trigger happy brother Pucha (Sami Darr) in tow.
Considering the low budget here, it's impressive what the filmmakers were able to create. This is a fun ride that Gonzalez (also the writer) handles, showing a clear love for the genre. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's more than enough to keep your interest through the end. Equal doses of action, violence and humor abound, and most of the time it works: love the fork in the neck, as well as Frank's line when his cronies hesitate with the safecracking: "Are you going to blow the safe or fuck it first?"
Things slow down a tad in the middle before picking up, and I found a plot point with Tina wasn't nearly as funny as it was intended to be. Holmey does a solid job as the big boss man, but it's the charismatic Edwards who injects the film with real energy. Throw in a great title sequence and a mood-enhancing soundtrack, and this low-budget labor of love shows promise of a director on the rise. And about that ending? Just make sure you watch the credits...