Movie Review – Once Upon A Time In Mexico
The Plot – Antonio Banderas returns as El Mariachi, the nameless guitar wielding folk hero who challenged the Mexican cartels. In this follow-up to Desperado, a corrupt CIA agent named Sands (played by Johnny Depp) brings El (as he is called by the people) out of hiding in a plot to infiltrate a drug cartel and assassinate the president of Mexico. El agrees, but only so he can exact his own brand of revenge.
The Review – This one is tough. Taking note from the Rambo movies, it follows that a hero cannot be violent without first having lost everything. The overall pace of the movie is slow in comparison to Desperado. There are no surprises in the plot so watching the film is really just a matter of being patient while the scenes play out. Much of El’s history is told in flashback throughout the film, but you get the gist of things immediately.
The cinematography is well done and the action scenes are as violent as they are explosive. The downside of this movie is the effort spent on making it a whodunit with a number of plot twists. While the flashbacks add to the overall drama of El’s personal demons the subplots involving Sands, a female Federali, a retired FBI agent and the cartel’s enforcer seem too ambitious for an action picture. I found the added pieces did little to add depth to the film, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Depp’s character were somehow spun off into a separate franchise. (I found it interesting that Sands used the word “Savvy” in the same context as Captain Jack Sparrow. I wonder if that was Depp’s idea?)
Fans of the El Mariachi series shouldn’t be too disappointed and the movie is definitely worth a rental to checkout Depp’s performance.
Grade: B-/C+ (I was feeling schizophrenic when I wrote this)
Interesting tidbit about Robert Rodriguez, the man who shot, chopped & scored the films.