Acción mutante (1993) [Fantasia 2022] 

In a world where only the beautiful succeed, a group of unattractive people, some disabled, fight to take back their rights. While fleeing the police, one of them crashes on a planet without women and populated by miners who may not be all there. 

Wrriten by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Álex de la Iglesia, with the latter directing as well, this film is, well, nuts. It’s one that is hard to explain without giving too much away and it’s also one where there is so much going on, it’s hard to know where to start. This is the kind of movies that is best viewed on the most massive screen available, with the sound at almost deafening levels, and with as many like-minded people as possible. This is early Álex de la Iglesia and it deserves to be seen. No, it requires to be seen. The film here shows a knack for crazy stories and a visual style that is just as bonkers. The film here is one that hasn’t aged much at all since 1993. Yes, it has aged on the technical side, but once engrossed into it, it’s easy to forget that is is almost 30 years old. 

The cast of characters here are the evil beautiful people and the police versus the ugly and/or disabled people. It’s also a bunch more once things get going, all nuttier than those before. The lead, the boss, character Ramón Yarritu is played by Antonio Resines who gives vibes of the best bad guys, but here he’s the anti-hero of sorts, the one the uglies are waiting for when he gets out of prison. The work by Resines here is grand, giving his character a larger-than-life feel, a bigger-than-big personality. He’s full of screen presence and makes the most of his time on screen. His performance here is a bit reminiscent of Michael Ironside in so many of his “bad guy” parts. There entire film revolves around him, whether it actually does or not. Resines gives off that kind of energy and vibe, making this a film entirely about him, bringing the viewer to him no matter what is going on around him. The rest of the cast is great too, but he’s more than great, more than a presence. His work here is charismatic and magnetic. The rest of the cast works well as well, with a few hiccups here and there in the performances, but nothing that makes it worth pointing out anyone in particular as being bad. 

The cinematography by Carles Gusi works great for the film and gives it just the right mood to fit in the early 1990s scifi, post-apocalypse, comedy land. The film is a mix of genres on all fronts and even on the visual front. The cinematography clearly understands what is needed of the images here and gives exactly that, never shying away from the mayhem, but also not going into a crass feeling. The film is a bit exploitative yes, but in a very calculated manner, so the images work with that as well. The editing by Pablo Blanco and the music by Def Con Dos come together with the images to create an energy, a rhythm, a way for the film to feel dynamic and full of something. Now, what that something is, it may vary per viewer. 

Acción mutante is a sort of classic, definitely a must-see film from the early days of Álex de la Iglesia’s career, one worth looking back upon to see where someone with such a body of work came from. The film is nuts and never boring, bringing so much to screen, it’s easy to miss something, but as it warrants multiple watches, this is not really an issue for this film.  

Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 runs from July 14th to August 3rd, 2022