The Spanish Judges

Dir: Oz Scott
Starring: Matthew Lillard, Valeria Golino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Mark Boone Jr

You come into this expecting an ultra-twisty confidence trick of a movie, but it's almost straightforward. Early on, they make it clear that Jack (Lillard) is a liar with an agenda, pitting Max (D'Onofrio) against his partner Jamie (Golino) in a deal centred on the near-mythical pistols of the title. The problem is, there isn't much more to it, until the end, when the final twist is revealed and all hell breaks loose. Although any fist-fight in which Lillard goes toe-to-toe with D'Onofrio will always be wildly implausible; you can imagine Jack besting Max mentally, not physically.

The overall effect is not completely engrossing, yet neither is it tedious enough to lose your attention. All the actors are fine, even if Golino seems somewhat miscast as a poison-toting femme fatale, and the friction orchestrated by Jack between the characters is the film's best attribute. Perhaps the most memorable performance, however, is Tamara Mello's girl from Mars. At least, that's what she thinks, and there's reason to suspect she might not be as loony as she seems. It is totally at odds with the tough, hard-nosed rest of the film, which might be why it sticks in the mind. More such weirdness would have been welcome, and could have raised this above the level of workmanlike competence to which it aspires.


Judge not, lest ye be judged
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