It is the year 2012, and Accion Mutante have been staging protests for years now on the basis of the ruling class being obsessed with beauty and physical perfection when the disabled, like them, are effectively sidelined. Thanks to this militant stance the group have turned terrorist, in one attack gunning down an aerobics class led by a keep fit celebrity live on television, and they have pretty much got away with their crimes even if there is still nobody taking them seriously. That could be down to their leader, Ramon Yarritu (Antonio Resines) being behind bars for the past five years...
But now Ramon is out, and he's ready with a new plan, his most audacious yet. So began what in its opening few minutes came across as a highly politicised social satire, yet writer and director Álex de la Iglesia soon lost interest in that when the lure of creating a scuzzy science fiction world not unlike that of his beloved comic books became too much to resist. That didn't stop many observers trying to define a commentary on the way the world was going from the plot of this, but really you would find more cutting edge humour in an average copy of 2000 A.D. than you would here.
Not that the two were dissimilar, and the tradition of warping current trends into dystopian shapes was very much the order of the day, but once the gang have gatecrashed the wedding of a super-rich bread manufacturer's spoilt daughter, Patricia (Frédérique Feder) it was broad humour and outlandish bad taste all the way. The running gag for the first half was the terrorists' ineptitude leading their numbers to be whittled down - if anything, terrorism is presented as the actions of a bunch of miserable spoilsports who never get invited to parties, so not much insight there - as Ramon's grand scheme goes spectacularly awry.
Pausing to say, here, wasn't that Rossy de Palma from the Pedro Almodóvar movies (the famed director produced this), our next destination is outer space, the director somewhat optimistically predicting that Planet Earth would be populating the galaxy by 2012. Ramon wants to take Patricia to a mining colony at the arse end of the universe where he has arranged with the big shot to get the huge ransom in exchange for his daughter's life, but along the journey there's a twist which sees him and his captive crash into the planet, the sole survivors. Well, almost, as there is one half (Álex Angulo) of a pair of conjoined twins on the warpath, dragging his deceased brother along behind him: he doesn't want the money, he wants to be in love with Patricia.
Happily ever after and all that. Whether de la Iglesia was going to allow such sentimentality into this comedically harsh landscape wasn't up for too much debate once you had the measure of his sensibilty. In its Herculean attempts not to be predictable, there were a few unexpected moments, yet overall you could sit through Accion Mutante without being too shocked by what you saw; sure, some were repulsed by the horror movie detail, but as far as the plot went this was blithely anti-everything stuff. Everyone here serves as antagonist to everyone else, no matter who you are there will be someone getting on your nerves or going to the other extreme and trying to kill you. But was it funny? Fitfully, but when the biggest laugh is for a throwaway joke featuring an unconventional breakfast cereal, it should have been funnier as it preferred to trade in heavy doses of irony rather than hilarious one-liners or visual quips. Álex never looked back, though, as this was his calling card to Spanish cinema. Music by Def Con Dos, with chanty theme.