Here is a curated selection of the ways the avenging hitman/enforcer they call “Maximo” dispatches his foes in “Xtreme (Extremo).”
There’re knives, pistols, assault rifles and a samurai sword, a nail gun, a car lift, a VW Golf and the spikes of a headrest yanked out of a VW Golf. He uses his feet and his fists, and at one point, a drug dealer he’s beaten senseless is turned into nunchaku as he bludgeons the dealer’s protectors into submission or death as he does.
Maximo, the made-man with a mean streak played by stunt-man/actor Teo García (“Mal día para fumar”, is a most efficient killer. The movie he conceived and others built around this character is a standard-issue mixed martial arts/mob revenge tale, with over-familiar tropes, characters and scenes and far less efficient.
But as its a gangland thriller set in one of the world’s most beautiful cities — Barcelona — a film with epic brawls and shootouts, Japanese yakuza savagery and a body count to rival any given “Die Hard,” it’s worth a look.
Maximo is a trusted lieutenant in a crime family whose psychopathic son and heir, Lucero (Óscar Jaenada), uses him when he busts up a plan merger of “families.” The opening shoot-out/slaughter takes place in a drug lab and ends with mass summary executions of the lab techs.
Lucero spent some time out of the country, learning the ways of Japan and its criminal gangs, the yakuza. His treachery is next-level villainy, as he sends minions to murder Max and his son as they are about to go into hiding.
Max, along with Lucero’s smart but marked-for-death adoptive sister (Andrea Duro) lay low, biding their time for revenge. But Max’s interventions in the threats to teen drug dealer Leo (Óscar Casas) alter their plans. They know he’s still alive, “a combination of John Wayne and Bruce Lee,” and he does not care.
“Tell them when they come I’ll be ready for them, too” he growls (in Spanish with English subtitles, or dubbed).
Now, he’s got a surrogate son to save as he wreaks his revenge on Lucero’s gang, each massacre just another step on the ladder up to the Big Boss.
The bulldog-built García is great in the fights, with choreography, weaponry and editing turning every one on one, one on two or three brawls into a fist-and-feet-and-firearms of fury throwdown. He’s not the least bit interesting as a “character,” one-dimensional.
Other characters — a villain and his two most lethal henchmen — are archetypes, the plot pro forma and the sequences — a training montage here, a ritualistic wish-I-was-a-samurai dance there — seriously unsurprising.
Characters drift in and out of the story, basically getting in the way of a leaner, meaner movie that would have punched above its weight.
Still, without those extra characters, we’d have missed much of the movie’s “Look how gorgeous Barcelona is” moments.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, drug abuse
Cast: Teo , Óscar Jaenada, Andrea Duro, Óscar Casas and Isa Montalbán
Credits: Directed by Daniel Benmayor, script by Ivan Ledesma based on a story concept by Teo García. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:52