Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
My Score: 07/10
Once Upon a Time in Mexico just barely makes it into the range of me telling people they should see it.
It's not a bad movie, but it's not quite as good as Desperado. I enjoyed it. Johnny Depp was funny. But it didn't have the charm of Desperado. Is it fair to judge Once Upon a Time by Desperado? Maybe not. Anyway, for an action movie, the action scenes are spread a bit far apart, and stuck between them is a big pile of scenes trying to explain the plot to us... Except the plot wasn't really there. I mean, yeah, there's a plot, and it's interesting, but it doesn't really have a lot of direction.
Also, it doesn't have enough Salma Hayek. That's a weakness of the screenplay. She's Arnold Schwarzenneger's cousin/friend who dies to make the hero mad so he can beat the odds. They go through the bother of having Cheech narrate a scene with her throwing knives and doing kung fu and shit, but then she doesn't do it for the rest of the movie. And what's with the chain scene? Yeah, it's cool. How'd they get the chain on them, though? Did the guys who were about to shoot at them sneak in and put on the chain first, and then sneak back out to wait and see what would happen?
I dunno. It was enjoyable. There were a lot of funky wire-yanks and pyrotechnics on people getting shot, which I guess was neat. I guess the revenge and stuff just didn't pull me in. And the epic Mexican patriotism is probably lost on the average american audience, who doesn't give a crap about any country whose money is worth less than ours (not that the average american understands why other countries have their own currency, or why it's worth a different amount than ours)... But I digress.
Eva Mendes was also underused. Willem Dafoe was underused. And dig his funky I'm-a-Mexican makeup! Johnny Depp was a good supporting character. Why in the name of fuck was Enrique Iglesias in this movie? Why? You might as well have Christina Aguilera in it. Though, I guess she speaks Ebonics these days, and she's not playing up her Latina stuff anymore.
I'm digressing again. Go see Once Upon a Time in Mexico. See it for Antonio Banderas's performance. Go see it for Johnny Depp's collection of whacky t-shirts. Go see it for some neat gunfight sequences. Just don't go see it for a well-structured, well-paced story. It's action-driven, and not plot-driven or character-driven.
So, the action is good, the plot is only okay, the acting is pretty good. And man, the title just works. I just wish Enrique got shot in the face, or burned in an explosion or something.
I failed to mention before that the credits say: "Shot, Chopped and Scored by Robert Rodriguez." I assumed that meant Directed, Edited and Scored. That is true. It also means that he was the cameraman. Ebert and Roeper mentioned on their show this weekend that he shot the whole movie using a handheld 24 frame/second Sony digital video camera. I had no idea the whole movie was shot that cheaply. It also explains why the plot is so free to wander around. At no point during the post production does Rodriguez have someone sitting next to him telling him things like, "Woah, that doesn't make sense." or "Hey, the audience isn't going to be able to follow this." or "What does this scene add to the movie?" ... So, that is where the plot wanderings come from. However, knowing that he shouldered the entire burden of production makes the movie that much more impressive, so I've changed my rating from a 06 to 07. Go see it, just for the spectacle of one man's slavery to his art.