Once Upon A Time In Mexico

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Once Upon A Time In Mexico
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), the man with the guitar case full of guns, is back in Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon A Time In Mexico. In the third chapter of the El Mariachi story, Mariachi is hired by Johnny Depp's rogue CIA Agent Sands to help stop an assasination attempt on the president of Mexico. The execution and impending presidential coup is being organized by General Marquez and a drug lord named Barillo (Willem Dafoe) who also has an American fugitive named Billy (Mickey Rourke) that works for him. Mariachi has a personal score to settle with Marquez so he accepts Sands' assignment. In the story, there is also an ex-FBI agent (Ruben Blades), Special Agent Ajedrez (Eva Mendes), Mariachi's wife Caroline (Salma Hayek) and Belini (Cheech Marin). Oh, and I forgot to mention Enrique Iglesias. How could I forget Enrique?

Sound confusing? At times, it definitely is. It feels like there is too much going on, too many characters and not enough screen time for everyone, especially Banderas himself. But despite some confusion as to who the hell is who and when and where and how and why, I still found everything going on in the movie to be sufficiently explained and the action to be intriguing enough for me to enjoy this movie. Rodrigues has a unique style of over-the-top violence that is refreshing for lovers of blood, guts and violent movies. He has some rather interesting kill scenes (how's your knees asshole?) and some disturbing but interesting torture methods. El Mariachi and his two amigos (Iglesias and Marco Leonardi) have that magical Hollywood power of dodging all bullets fired in their direction, even the bullets of a machine gun being fired at point blank range. Nevertheless, I was still able to thoroughly enjoy Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Rodriguez's violent style was refreshing. His story, although borderline confusing, was still interesting. And Johnny Depp was able to do something that he did earlier this summer - steal a movie scene by scene. His performance in every single minute of screen time he was given is itself worth the price of admission. Although not nearly as good as Captain Jack Sparrow, Agent Sands, from beginning to end, is flawless. Banderas is also decent as El Mariachi. Surpisingly, Willem Dafoe's Barillo is rather uninteresting and slightly disappointing.

Nevertheless, Once Upon A Time In Mexico is a movie that I would recommend. See it for yet another stellar Johnny Depp performance. See it for a good performance by Antonio Banderas. And see it for Rodriguez's unique and refreshing style. Just make sure you have a clear mind when you go to the movie because there is a hell of a lot going on in this movie and if you are tired or hung over or drunk or something like that, you'll probably have to see the movie again to figure out what the hell had just happened.


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