"A supreme example of style vs. substance - and style wins"
Billed as a sequel but essentially just a big-budget retelling of EL MARIACHI, DESPERADO has all the Hollywood earmarks missing in the previous film - pretty big-budget stars, high production values, and an even higher body count. But while EL MARIACHI purists may scream about Hollywood corrupting everything it touches, sometimes the big-money makeover isn't an evil thing.If there's one element that truly sets Desperado apart from its predecessor, it's the addition of Antonio Banderas. While I am generally not a big fan of Banderas and his usual strutting rico-suave motif - that man was born for the role of El Mariachi. And while I feel bad for the replaced Carlos Gallardo, who played El previously and only shows up for a brief appearance in this film, Banderas brings a crucial larger-than-life persona to El Mariachi that Gallardo never could. His every move, word, and glance exudes coolness and bad-assity. Give him a guitar case full of guns under one arm, and Latina goddess Salma Hayek under the other, and you have yourself one bad motherfuckin' hombre.
Which isn't to say that the film doesn't have plenty of things in the negative column. The plot is a threadbare recycling of the previous film with a really lame twist near the end, the action sequences at times become a bit too cartoonish, and the appearances of Steve Buscemi and Rodriguez's buddy Tarantino, while amusing, are incongruous with the rest of the film.
But when you're peddling style over substance, things like plot mechanics and character incongruities don't matter too much - as long as you can deliver the style. Luckily, Desperado has style coming out of its ass, courtesy of Banderas' swaggering machismo and Rodriguez's eye for the camera. Despite its shortcomings, you are ultimately willing to overlook them because the film, and everything Banderas does in it, just look so damn cool. Another big plus in its favor is the charismatic lead villain, Bucho, played by Juaquim de Almeida. Always-dependable in the role of the Latino heavy (in fact, he's playing damn near the exact same character in the current season of 24), the manner in which he berates and torments his inept band of thugs is a constant source of amusement.Although its a far cry from a perfect remake/sequel/whatever, it's just so damn fun to watch that I can't be too harsh on it. Substance is nice, but sometimes style is more than enough on its own.