Movies & TV / Reviews

El Coyote Review

May 30, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
El Coyote
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
El Coyote Review  

El Coyote Review

Michael Saquella– Stone Spencer
Robert Costanzo– Giovanni Fransesco
John Capodice– Don Rossi
Michael Ochotorena– Carlos
J.C.Marquez Pulita– Miguel Suarez
Dusty Corner– Senator Stevenson
Kristin Dattilo– Sophie Spencer
Michaela Dean– Carmen Spencer
Paul J. Lucero– Jax Spencer

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Jeffrey Nicholson
Screenplay by Jeffrey Nicholson

Distributed by Random Media

Not Rated
Runtime– 93 minutes

Buy it here or here


El Coyote, is a low budget sort of action comedy that is more charming than good. It has an interesting idea at its core that really hasn’t been explored in modern cinema all that much, but because of a wildly uneven tone it doesn’t really work the way it should. I liked it, I like what it’s trying to do, but I can’t say that it’s worth seeing for everyone.

El Coyote, written and directed by Jeff Nicholson, stars Michael Saquella as Stone Spencer, an affable family man and restaurant owner who is actually a former mob hitman trying to live a normal, non-mob guy life (he’s in witness protection because of a job he did for the CIA or something). One day, though, Spencer is pulled back into the criminal life when he finds out that his government agent son Jax (Paul J. Lucero) has been captured by a vicious cartel run by a guy named Miguel Suarez (J.C. Marquez Pulita). Suarez wants Spencer to help him complete a criminal scheme that, I think, involves human trafficking (Jax was captured during a botched raid involving the Border Patrol trying to stop human traffickers from robbing migrants or something). At first, Spencer doesn’t want to get involved because he just wants to live a quiet life and he doesn’t want his wife Sophie (Kristin Dattilo) and teen daughter Carmen (Michaela Dean) to get caught up in any of it. But because Jax is his son, Spencer decides to go back to his roots and help Suarez do whatever it is he needs to do.

So Spencer helps out and, almost immediately, Suarez backs out of the deal he made with Spencer and refuses to release Jax. Pissed off, Spencer decides to go full bore old school criminal, assume his old mob hitman persona (Spencer starts the movie off with hair and glasses, and ends up removing his toupee and glasses when it’s time to throw down). Spencer knows he can’t take on the Suarez cartel alone, though, so he calls up his old mob buddies from back east for help. And so a bunch of hilariously stereotypical “mob guys” show up at an airport in Arizona, including characters played by Robert Costanzo and John Capodice, they have a big spaghetti dinner at a local restaurant, and they all go to a cartel compound in the desert for one final battle. Gun battles, explosions, and hand-to-hand brawls ensue.

Now, the whole “old school mob guys up against Mexican cartel guys” sounds like a great movie idea. Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie where different organized crime entities battle it out for some kind of criminal supremacy? The problem with El Coyote is that it takes forever to get to that point. Most of the movie is a series of low key scenes that occasionally erupt into brutal violence (lots of people get shit in the head in this movie). Some of that low key stuff is interesting, but there’s just too much of it. Some scenes play on for seemingly forever, and it’s really unclear what the hell is actually going on. I’m still not entirely sure what it is the cartel wanted Spencer to do. Why does it take almost an hour to get the mob guys into the story?

There’s also a political element involving a corrupt U.S. Senator played nu Dusty Corner that somehow figures into the story but, again, I’m not entirely sure how. I think the senator, Stevenson, is a U.S. government contact for the cartel, and he knows Spencer, too (perhaps he helped get Spencer into witness protection?). But I’m not entirely sure why he’s in the movie.

The opening scene, where Dax gets captured and Suarez’s men kill a bunch of government agents, feels like it’s from a completely different movie. The violence is shockingly brutal and it makes you think that that’s what the movie is going to be like for its 90 minute running time. But after the very cool opening titles sequence the movie becomes something else. The movie slows down, becomes quieter. Things do get violent again every so often but, just like that opening scene, it’s like those scenes are from a different movie. It’s disorienting. As for those slow scenes, they’re too slow for their own good. Some of them work well, and some of them just go on forever. None of it makes any sense.

The cartel characters are, for the most part, violent psychopaths, but some of them are kind of cool in a weird “movie” kind of way. Michael Ochotorena plays a heavily tattooed cartel henchman named Carlos that could easily have his own movie. He has an interesting look and a goofy gleam in his eye that sort of lets the audience know that this movie is meant to be ridiculous in a good way. He holds back some of his goofiness, though, or at least it seems like that’s what he’s doing. Carlos should be a “bigger” character. What we get from him in his subdued state is one of the movie’s highlights.

The mob characters inject life into the movie because they’re so ridiculous. They’re rude and crude but, at the same time, hilarious, especially Robert Costanzo and John Capodice. Their characters say some incredibly offensive things but, at the same time, you can’t take anything they say seriously. It’s all a caricature and it works brilliantly. I think I could listen to both Costanzo and Capodice talk like “mob guys” for hours, just riffing on whatever comes to mind. I wish El Coyote had more of their energy.

As for Michael Saquella, he tries very hard to hold the movie together with his easy going persona. It doesn’t always work best for the movie, but it’s still kind of fun to watch him be a “nice” guy, even when you know that his Stone Spencer used to be a badass, ruthless killer. And I like the idea of a guy like Saquella being the action hero of an action movie. You just don’t expect to see that kind of thing. I just wish he had a clearer story and more to do.

And that, ultimately, is the problem with El Coyote. It’s too quiet for its own good. The stuff it does right it doesn’t do enough of. The movie is just all over the place.

See El Coyote if you’re interested in seeing something that’s different but, maybe, not as successful as it should be/wants to be. It’s really not for all tastes.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: Several, including a really big one.

Nudity?: Yes. It’s not bad.

Doobage: A car chase, a shooting spree, guy with a machete, AK-47 hooey, bullet to the head up close. Potential of screen decapitation, a pretty cool opening titles sequence, a helicopter, robbery, a serious bullet to the head, serious gut stabbing, another bullet to the head, food tasting, schmoozing, chair bondage, off screen torture, a fake dead body in a car trunk, a dead cook, casual potential racism, mild homophobia, another head shot, four wheeler hooey, yet another bullet to the head, extra underwear, phone throwing, exploding drone, mistaken identity, toupee removal, a homing device, binoculars, family bullshit, strangulation, throat slitting, mob guys, social media bullshit, a shootout. Exploding barrels, multiple exploding cars, neck breaking, rocket launcher hooey, a heartwarming flashback, and a funeral.

Kim Richards?: Attempted.

Gratuitous: The Arizona/Mexico border, a hilarious Italian mob stereotype asshole moment, a long walk and talk between a father and his daughter’s boyfriend, bad Spanish, some guy snorting cocaine, constantly referring to the Spencer character as a “pasta cook,” guys playing cards and talking shit to one another, casual racism, a cop that thinks Spencer is either Joe Pesci or some guy from The Sopranos, Italian bullshit, a guy that really needs to take a shit, a man having to use the ladies room at a gas station, an of screen bet on whether or not Spencer really wears a toupee, Robert Costanzo, John Capodice, slow motion mob guys walking, a Telly Savalas impersonation, a British guy with a sniper rifle who shows up out of nowhere, and a heartwarming flashback.

Best lines: “Freeze, motherfucker!,” “Rolling over on their own people? How noble,” “Welcome to America,” “Go for Spencer,” “You know that’s bad for you, right?,” “I don’t like to drink. I like to cook,” “I guess I don’t get along with Mexicans,” “I’m supposed to take your word as a Catholic?,” “What? You’ve never had skidmarks before?,” “Your short game sucks,” “You never write a fucking check that your ass can’t cash!,” “Yo, lollipop, where’s the john?,” “Whoa! You fucking stink!,” “You better be butt dialing me,” “What have you done? Answer me!,” “Nice watch,” “Hey, what happened to your hair?,” “All right, come on, enough with the flowers, let’s go whack these wetback cocksuckers!,” “Nice to see you, too, cousin,” “If I could cook like this I wouldn’t have to pay for pussy,” “Let’s go whack these cocksuckers!.” “What the fuck?,” “Who in their right fucking mind would want to live out here?,” “Did you see Jeopardy last night? Did you see fucking Jeopardy?,” “Die motherfucker!,” and “God only knows what you’ve done in your past. I don’t even want to know.”

The final score: review Average
The 411
El Coyote is a wildly uneven sort of action comedy that doesn’t quite work. It has some good/interesting elements, including the idea (a modern Mexican drug cartel going up against an old Italian mob stereotype gang) and some good performances, but it just doesn’t come together the way it needs to in order to be successful. It’s too subdued at times and way too violent at other times. I really wanted this movie to work. I really like several elements of this movie. Only see this if you’re interested in seeing something that doesn’t really work. Michael Saquella should be in more action movies, though. He isn’t the kind of guy you expect to see in that kind of role.

article topics :

El Coyote, Bryan Kristopowitz