The second thing you'll probably be aware of when it comes to Carnahan and his Instagram-blogging, is that War Party's latest feature, EL CHICANO, just dropped and he's really excited about it. Like REALLY excited about it.
Should we be so excited? Yes. And no. Set in the heart of the LA drug cartel wars it sees suave and charismatic detective Diego Hernandez (Raul Castillo) investigating the latest drug war mass-murder in a warehouse. The more he digs into the case the more truth he uncovers about the death of his wayward twin brother (also played by Castillo). Compound Hernandez's newfound concerns with a new partner he doesn't like and the legend of the 'ghetto grim reaper' the titular El Chicano, a Hispanic superhero vigilante figure, and you have all the ingredients you need to make a dementedly violent, pseudo-superhero gang warfare feature.
Based on a muscular script that Carnahan co-scribed with EL CHICANO's debut feature director Ben Bray, this is the kind of territory Carnahan does really well in. Well, most of the time. For every NARC that Carnahan pens, there's a PRIDE AND GLORY that ever-so-slightly misses the mark. And for every THE GREY there's a DEATH WISH that just scrapes through.
EL CHICANO is essentially a super-hero origin story with a thundering motorbike instead of a Batmobile and hoodie replacing a cowl, which is fine but we really miss Carnahan's original streak. Like that french behemoth Luc Besson, Carnahan seems to keep all his best scripts for himself and dishes the rest out to others.
It's a sturdy enough film, for sure. It's fast, head-smackingly violent, has a relatively efficient script and it does hold a couple of surprises up it's sleeve (one of the most entertaining being George Lopez ditching the yucks and playing a serious role as the police captain). Add to that director Bray's (very) slick visuals and you have all the ingredients for an entertaining diversion.