by Greg Muskewitz
"The Mexican" has two of the biggest box-office draws, albeit not the best caliber of actors, coupled together in a movie intended to thrust us giggle into glee-hood. Borrowing two words from that first sentence, intended and coupled, the first major problem is obviously it did not achieve it. And when I say couple, one would imagine that these two characters would be acting "together." Nope. They are like a psychogenic fugue; they are at the same place at the start, completely separate to opposite ends, and then end up back together by the end. Too bad the rest of the movie couldnít have worked as smoothly!Jerry (Brad Pitt) is paying off his debt to mob boss Margoles, who is in prison paying his debt to society because of an accident Jerry caused. Heís given the one last job before his "sentence" ends to go to Mexico and retrieve a fabled, but cursed gun, which happens to share the same name with the movie. But his conflict is between going or getting killed, so it puts him in quite a predicament when his clingy, self-obsessed girlfriend Sam (Julia Roberts) says sheís going with or without him to Las Vegas.
"'The Mexican' is an excursion to nowhere, a trip to Hackdomhood."
So, Jerryís on his way to Mexico, and Julia has split her way to Vegas to become a croupier, but it comes as no surprise when things go wrong for the both. Jerryís car is stolen, and his pick-up guy, who turned out to be Margolesí grandson, was killed. Hitman Leroy (James Gandolfini) is sent to "regulate the funkiness" with Sam and make sure that Jerry holds up with his end of the bargain. Both of our protagonists being flibbertigibbets, they both manage to mangle things ever further.
He loses gun, goes and searches for gun, steals it back, runs away, loses it again, searches for gun, gets in big fight over gun, flees with gun, is pursued for gun, etc., etc., etc. Or in her case, acts bitchy, doesnít become any more likable, acts bitchier, further removing herself from likability, obsesses over herself, wonders why itís always her, cries about it being him whoís always so horrible, and goes back to bitchiness, until suddenly the movie wants us to like her, so they have Roberts flash her grin thinking itís all that it takes.
The story, written by J.H. Wyman is a rip-off and convolution of everything from Quentin Tarantinoís films, to "The Usual Suspects," to "Desperato" to "Get Shorty," to any other amalgam of spaghetti westerns, film noir, road comedy and a slew of others that donít protrude as sharply. Thereís nothing wrong with tossing some things together, but donít take it without giving some sort of alteration.
I don't know whether to take this as a surprise, or say that it was to be expected, but the presentation of Chicanos were condescending, semi-offensive, stereotypical and not in good taste.
The characters are badly undeveloped. They go nowhere, and ultimately, are very annoying and unlikable. Itís not long before Pittís dork and Robertsí hatred drown out anything that would have made this enjoyable. Why keep them separate the whole movie? Why keep dragging on and on with a plot that is going nowhere? Itís all very soluble from the get-go, but it at least tempts us into believing there ought to be some amusement along the way. But the back-and-forth antics of getting the gun and losing it, and going one way and then back to the other become very tiresome and exhaustive. In other words, it becomes tedious, and the two-hour movie feels like a three-and-a-half hour ordeal.
The biggest blame for lack of chemistry is obviously on the script. The two are allowed so little interaction that this double-bill of oversized names means next to nothing. But even when they do interact, the scenes are silly and dull. (Not to mention the fact that both hugely over-gesture throughout their whole role.) Even still, their together-interaction is without chemistry. They donít form any sort of rapport, bond, or anything for that matter, they only drive us insane. (However, for those fretting over that, have no fear; I hear they are filming at least two more movies together. For those of you who anticipate such things, hope that they are actually filming them together!)
More than anything, Pittís stupidity makes his performance hard to enjoy. He could be a lot worse, but he achieves no validity, no comedic specializations, and no fun. Then again, at least it wasnít "Snatch." Not much could be said in defense of Roberts either, who is currently right below Charlize Theron on my list of people that I have seen far too much of lately. Again, at least this isnít "Runaway Bride," but she brainlessly and annoyingly mimes her way though the whole thing. I liked what Erik Childress had to say about her in his review: If anything, maybe it will at least take away some of her votes for "Erin Brockovich."
The supporting cast is quickly forgettable, including Bob Balaban, David Kumholtz, Sherman Augustus, Michael Cerveris, Carlos LaCamara, and an unremdeptive cameo by Gene Hackman. Gandolfini is probably the best thing in the entire movie, and for those who havenít bothered to watch "The Sopranos" (myself included), this is probably a similar way to how he handles it their, of course, minus the gay element (if, what we learn about him at the end, even still holds valid).
Often audiences, outside of that from those at the arthouses, are often prone to be less accepting of gays in mainstream movies, so youíll hear the occasional snicker or "ewww," but I was quite surprised by the immature reactions of the audience during this particular screening, shouting out inappropriate comments and such throughout. This further surprises me after the gentile reception it got both in "Saving Silverman," and by the audience of "Saving Silverman." It seems teens arenít the ones in need of maturation.
All that can be said for director Gore Verbinski is, cinematically, he doesnít know his head from his tail. Why would you employ a director for something deemed much more "adult," after his only previous credit is "MouseHunt?" Verbinski predictably goes for all the clichť traits, which doesnít surprise us to learn he hails from a TV commercial background. Where the cutely amusing flashback sequences start to pinch the nerves on its continued usage, the gooey and gunky green cinematography during other sequences make it stand out even uglier. (And this is coming from quality cinematographer Dariusz Wolski who shot "The Crow" and "Dark City.") All that can be said for "The Mexican" is that it is an excursion to nowhere, and a trip to Hackdomhood.Final Verdict: D+.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3895&reviewer=172
originally posted: 03/02/01 16:53:18