Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)


Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:

Warning, minor plot points revealed!

I saw this movie before the Hurricane hit but I wasn't able to finish my review before the power went out.  I loved this movie, it was fun to watch, the actors were all super-cool and the gun battles were possibly the loudest I've ever heard!  I am a fan of all of the movies by director Robert Rodriguez.  I like the Spy Kids movies, the first From Dusk Till Dawn film, and the prequels to this movie El Mariachi and DesperadoHe is an excellent director from the Tarantino school of film making and according to the credits for this film he "chopped", shot and scored the movie, as well as writing and directing it, and he personally operated the new Sony 24-fps digital Hi-Def camera.

The movie this time tells the story of a rouge CIA agent who hires El Mariachi to stop the assassination of the president of Mexico by a drug lord and a evil military general.  Along the way we see flashbacks of El Mariachi's doomed romance and once again meet some of the colorful cast of characters who have helped or hindered his desperado musician/killer life story.  

This is the kind of movie you watch for pure enjoyment.  If you are expecting a major plot of interesting story line you will be disappointed.  The film plays like a comic book with brief vignettes as opposed to one flowing narrative.  Even though this is officially part 3 of a trilogy, you don't have to have seen either of the first two films to enjoy this one.  It's sort of like the difference between Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2.  Same characters, almost the same story, and some changes made to the back story that don't correlate to the prior film.  

The special effects of the film primarily consist of excellent gun battles and chase scenes.  These are executed with exaggerated grace and style so they are all supremely cool.  If the theatre you are watching the film in has the volume turned up as loud as mine did then the thunderous boom from El Mariachi's guns will literally shake the foundation of the theatre like a cannon shot!  It was awesome!

All the actors do a fine job with their roles and all seem to have been having a great time during the shoot.  Antonio Banderas is not one of my favorite actors but he has few lines and is mostly moody and silent reprising his role as El Mariachi.  Cheech Marin is back as the funny bartender character from the last film who tells the opening tale of El Mariachi to whoever is looking for him.  This time the person looking is Johnny Depp as CIA agent Sands.  His character is outstanding and over the top in accordance with his normal acting style and Sands is a perfect balance to his wild pirate Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black PearlSalma Hayek is back as El Mariachi's lost love Carolina.  Her story this time is different from what we saw in Desperado but she is beautiful as always!  Rubén Blades has a small role as Sands FBI counterpart.  Willem Dafoe is excellent as always in the role of Drug Kingpin BarilloMickey Rourke plays Barillo's main chihuaua toting henchman.  Eva Mendes has a small role as a Mexican policewoman.  Danny Trejo is a staple of Rodriguez films and this time plays a henchman of Depp's character.  And finally, doing an wonderfully unexpected good job with his role of fellow mariachi to Banderas is Enrique Iglesias!  He even gets to sing a little and according to a recent news item I read this may be the last time you get to see him with the famous facial mole.

I'm not going to say you have to go see this movie.  It's probably not for anyone except middle school boys and me.  I liked it and it's a great movie for what it is.  If you wanna see some snappy dialogue and a bunch of super-cool shootouts in Mexico then this is the film for you.