Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek
In life it’s generally a good idea to be prepared for different variables and how it could impact your experience in a positive or negative sense. Having a plan allows for concrete steps to be carried out but you could not begrudge the characters in From Dusk till Dawn for being wholly unprepared for the situation they find themselves in. By providing everything one could expect from an adult-oriented Robert Rodriguez story, this film hits just enough of the right notes.
On the run from the police, brother duo Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Quentin Tarantino) Gecko decide to kidnap a family for some collateral protection. As they try to evade the police, they arrive at a bar near the United States/Mexico border. Salacious at first, they begin to comprehend they have walked into the den of some blood-thirsty monsters.
Talking about this film without revealing the turn in the middle is impossible, so I do apologize if anyone has the monster turn spoiled. However, this film was released in 1996 and the turn makes for an adjustment of entertainment as well as it is surprising. Between the reveals shows two fairly different stories working to varying degrees of quality. The first half shows two despicable men using an innocent family as a human shield from the consequences they deserve and the other displays these exact two individuals trying to save the day and shoot their way out of quite the predicament. From despicable villains to borderline heroes the reverse in roles makes for quite the conflict seeing as the only truly innocent individuals in the entire story is the kidnapped family just trying to survive this truly horrifying experience they never asked for.
As with any Rodriguez film of this ilk, the key to finding enjoyment comes from simply letting the fun times ride and not paying too much mind to the critical aspects of the storytelling. On a narrative level, it definitely leaves plenty lacking, but on a visual and entertainment level, it achieves the greatest heights it possibly can. If one can be ignored for the sake of the other then plenty of enjoyment can be found within this ultra-violent and raunchy affair.
One simply cannot talk about this film without mentioning the immaculate screen presence of Salma Hayek. Portraying one of the dancers of this bar, from the second she first appears on screen and then departs leaves an indelible mark on the rest of the feature. Culminating in one of her most famous scenes within her illustrious career, she takes center stage and equally dazzles the audience as well as the characters in the feature. It only made sense she would then shift the entire story into what it would eventually become. Even after all of the bloodshed and zanieness the story has to offer, for most people the lasting image will most likely be Hayek demonstrating why she’s such a captivating screen presence.
Starring as the two despicable brothers are George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino who absolutely look nothing like brothers. If anything Tarantino is doing himself quite the favor by even giving an indication he could be related to Clooney, but it makes sense seeing as he wrote the script. Just like with pretty much any other appearance by Tarantino in a film he wrote/directed he allows himself to play such decrepit characters and it’s no different here with his appearance as Richie. However, the star undeniably proves to be George Clooney. Mixing his charm with the scumbag demeanor he likes to show off every once in a while, he perfectly walks the line in making his character somewhat likeable despite the circumstances. He’s not as bad as Richie but still quite the bad person. He emerges as the true lead of this story and dispute being on the run from some bloodthirsty animals, his genuine suave demeanor always sticks out in the best of ways.
Blood, gore, over the top action, and dodgy CGI, From Dusk till Dawn has pretty much everything you could expect from a collaboration from these talented individuals. For what it lacks in coherent storytelling it makes up for in its brashness and truly going for it with its violence and salaciousness. Certainly not the best from everyone involved but still certainly a wild ride you do not see coming.