Bad Girls We Love: Machine Gun Woman

The titular Machine Gun Woman of Ernesto Díaz Espinoza’s 2012 Chilean action-comedy Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (with a title that riffs off Sam Peckinpah’s 1974 cult classic Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) is not actually the villain of the film. Sure, she does things like shoot people with her guns but they’re criminals, and most importantly, they’re trying to kill her and chop her head off. No, her “badness” is defined by that other meaning of the word, the slang usage where “bad” actually means “good.” And trust me, our heroine is bad. Dare I say, without a shred of regret for contributing to the flagrant overuse of this word because it is absurdly appropriate here, she is in fact a badass.

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman is mostly about gangsters trying to kill the Machine Gun Woman and her efforts to kill them before they kill her. Who is the Machine Gun Woman, you ask? Well, the movie teases out just enough of her backstory to explain why she’s gone full-on lone wolf vigilante gunslinger. Machine Gun Woman’s badassery begins with these basic character concepts, but ultimately is brought to life by Ferrnanda Urrejola’s jaw-dropping performance. Watching Urrejola shoot first and ask questions later is exhilarating, and don’t forget these guys deserve it. She also injects droll cynicism and a knowing wink-and-a-smile style to everything she does. Apparently, Urrejola costarred in a Clint Eastwood movie a year or so ago, so here’s hoping we hear more from her in these parts of the world.

The male-gazing exploitation influence is felt in Machine Gun Woman’s outfit of choice for her vigilante job. Basically she bypasses clothes altogether and goes for a Victoria’s Secret style mercenary chic, slides on some fishnets and tall boots, and straps an arsenal of guns and ammunition all over her body. To say it’s a highly impractical outfit for her line of work is an understatement. Then again, who cares about miles of exposed skin or runs in your stockings when you’re a sharp-shooting badass??

Like any exploitation road movie worth its salt, the narrative is bare bones, only supplying the essential elements to propel the action. There are also some nice character moments between Urrejola and costar Matías Oviedo, who share a steamy sex scene in a Jeep, so there’s that too. I saw it years ago and it’s always left an impression. It’s just the right kind of silly, trashy action movie with a protagonist you love because she’s so damn good at what she does. In other words, she’s bad.

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