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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.83%
Worth A Look30.34%
Average: 17.24%
Pretty Bad: 19.31%
Total Crap: 8.28%

7 reviews, 103 user ratings

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Once Upon a Time in Mexico
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by Scott Weinberg

"Once upon a time it was probably a longer, better flick"
3 stars

Whenever a big bloated movie comes along, one common observation is that "there's probably a damn good 95-minute film buried in that pretentious 3-hour mess". Just the opposite is true of Robert Rodriguez's latest flick, a muddled, confusing and intermittently dazzling action film that would be a whole lot more satisfying were it more 'epic' and less 'hurried'.

What we've got here is a movie that was clearly a whole lot longer at some point prior to the editing booth. Serpentine subplots, copious collections of eclectic background characters, an irritating habit of harried exposition and a laborious devotion to flashback sequences all combine to tell one annoying tale: this flick was chopped to bits at some point, probably in an effort to make it as commercial as possible.

As it stands, Once Upon a Time in Mexico features a few arcane (and therefore enjoyable) performances, a handful of very exciting action bits...and scene after scene of non-stop lip service. After less than a half hour, you'll have given up trying to figure out who's a good guy, who's a bad guy, what each character's motivation is, and why you should care when such sketchily realized caricatures repeatedly betray one another...when you can't even tell who's on the same side in the first place!

This big sweaty ball of South of the Border mayhem centers around "El Mariachi" (Antonio Banderas) and the fact that he's been enlisted by a dangerously unstable CIA operative (Johnny Depp, approaching Crispin Glover territory here) to assassinate one fella who's set to assassinate a different fella. Only he's supposed to wait until the second assassin's contract is fulfilled...or maybe he's not supposed to wait. See, the plot shifts around like Tetris pieces, interrupted periodically for a flashback sequence or an action scene or an action sequence told in flashback.

Though it's in many ways an ungainly mess of a flick, Once Upon a Time in Mexico bears more than enough fruit to offer at least a half-hearted recommendation. Banderas is suitably macho and ass-kicktastic; Depp offers the world yet another endearingly bizarre performance; Salma Hayek (though only onscreen for about 12 minutes) proves a curvaceous distraction as well as one hell of a knife-thrower; slimy guys like Willem Defoe and Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke sleaze their way around the movie to an entertaining degree; the action centerpieces are colorfully realized and aptly invigorating... This is certainly not an awful movie.

But just the same I'm hoping for some sort of "Director's Cut" come DVD time. This current flick is edited so bizarrely and shows up so dramatically misshapen that one can almost feel the editor's scissors at work. Restore this one to its less "cineplex-friendly" form and I guarantee you end up with a better film. At the very least it would probably make sense.

The movie feels like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that have been wedged together with a rubber mallet. Still, large sections of the puzzle mesh quite well and deliver some solid escapist fun. Worth seeing for the good bits; get popcorn during the talky spots.

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originally posted: 09/12/03 16:08:12
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User Comments

3/24/12 GEORGE B. FEIST LOVE THE HUMOR...over the top and actors have fun 4 stars
11/09/11 Jeff Wilder Hayek underused and the plot is overstuffed. Good action though. 3 stars
9/07/10 BC Entertaining the first time, but when you view it a 2nd time, you realize how dumb it is 3 stars
3/25/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Mind-blowing action and funny dialogue 4 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight Story is pretty terrible, but it doesnt matter because the cast rocks 4 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP super bloody and violent and awesome, and Johnny was hot!!! 4 stars
10/29/07 Hester Less style and tightness than desperado, some cool scenes 2 stars
10/02/07 Double M A Rodriguez movie that has Banderas, Depp, Dafoe, Rourke (!) should be better. still, fun.. 3 stars
1/26/07 Artist Bill Silly putty is more entertaining... 2 stars
10/30/06 AJ Muller Admittedly all over the friggin' place but damned entertaining and a hell of a good time. 4 stars
7/22/06 Agent Sands One of Depp's most entertaining characters. 4 stars
7/01/06 R.W.Welch Desperado on a big budget. Moves well, good stunt work. 3 stars
6/27/06 Ashley Hinz Horrible excuse for a movie. 1 stars
6/16/06 Michele loved it 5 stars
6/13/06 Indrid Cold Why have Mickey Rourke and Willem Dafoe in your movie if they don't do anything? 3 stars
5/26/06 William Goss Has its moments and performances, but underwhelming on the visceral front. 3 stars
5/19/06 drydock54321 this is not for me 2 stars
4/29/06 RK Rodriguez's movies are always stylish and entertaining 3 stars
2/21/06 Striker An insult to Desperado(1995) 1 stars
11/01/05 missjie86 Throw logic and reason out the window and just enjoy the ride. 4 stars
10/12/05 Maddison I have seen this movie over a million times and it took my breath away. i loved Johnny depp 5 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Rodriguez's best movie, hands down. Depp steals every scene, even the ones he isn't in. 4 stars
10/08/05 Wisamane Dont listin to the people under me, this movie is incredible with the action it provides! 5 stars
8/16/05 me bandage man is sexy, i also happen to be mentally ill 5 stars
8/12/05 Kelly there is not enough space to tell how awful it was!i walked out!!!Go rent Desperado instead 1 stars
6/22/05 Agent Sands (re-post) lol im jk this movie is GAY just like me 1 stars
6/08/05 Naruto Absolute waste of time 1 stars
3/16/05 Andrea Worst Depp movie I've ever seen. Plot is way too confusing. Who is who?? 2 stars
2/23/05 malcolm where the hell was salma hayek 2 stars
1/02/05 Fred An empty, nonsense movie 1 stars
11/21/04 psycho black dwarf Bad idea to draw comparison to Leone w/ this hohum hocum. 3 stars
11/14/04 ELI This movie was DRY! Needed more blood. 3 stars
9/05/04 AL No plot, no characters. Lots of shooting. crap 1 stars
8/25/04 Agent Sands Rodriguez's hands-down best movie. This is Depp's best role to date, hence my name. 5 stars
8/21/04 ALDO way 2 confusing...way to many characters..disappointing 2 stars
8/19/04 courtney lost me during the movie but still good action 4 stars
7/20/04 Ionicera I didn't get what was going on but I was also playing Isketch at the same time 3 stars
7/08/04 Denise Johnny Depp is terrific, brilliant, and funny 5 stars
7/02/04 DM Nothing special, but enjoyable enough 4 stars
6/26/04 Alex weirdly good 5 stars
6/21/04 milehigh Proves it doesn't take $100 Million and a crew of thousands to create garbage. 2 stars
6/20/04 zoila were was film 3 stars
5/05/04 J.Peckerfoot visually superb,its fun,it ain't gonna change the face of cinema.. 4 stars
5/01/04 Ray Amazing in a rare way!! 5 stars
4/07/04 yosharto Depp n Banderas were way hot!even wen eyes were takin outt!sharting!shoud have been it dis! 4 stars
3/28/04 Kev *Yawn* What is this crap? 2 stars
3/24/04 Margie another great character for depp. But still weird. i guess if you go along with it it's OK 4 stars
3/17/04 CoLLeeN when was done i wanted to watch it again to try and catch what i missed.then i thought why? 4 stars
3/10/04 Ash Yet again, Depp IS the film! 5 stars
3/09/04 bsho76 Dull, confusing...Depp is the only interesting character 2 stars
3/08/04 john bale Mainly nonsense, and waste of talent, with complicated plot, but a bit of fun anyhow 3 stars
3/02/04 bob best movie ever seen watch it 5 stars
2/23/04 Gray fun to watch but confusing 4 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Funny 5 stars
2/20/04 Agent Sands In my top 5! Action, Depp, script, music, everything, deserve a STANDING OVATION!! 5 stars
2/16/04 Doug Gump Just awful -- if they advertised that Johnny Depp's eye are bored out, no one would bother. 1 stars
2/15/04 kgpian hard to follow... but simply superb 5 stars
2/15/04 sabujakash just watch it 5 stars
2/15/04 avradip breathstopping 5 stars
2/15/04 Clint White Hard to figure out what the hell is going on here 2 stars
2/12/04 jj It's a fun & intertaining movie with, sometimes, good action. 3 stars
2/10/04 Jingo P. Low character developement and overly-confusing storyline, but STILL LOVED IT! 4 stars
2/08/04 hooters It's very entertaining, great acting, beautiful music 5 stars
2/01/04 George great film and great music 5 stars
1/26/04 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) One of my top 5 FAVORITE movies. It's the masterpiece of Depp AND Rodriguez. 5 stars
1/23/04 Betty White Nice visual style and colorful performances. 4 stars
1/03/04 A F Depp rules. This film was strangly appealing to me. 5 stars
12/23/03 Cheryl Mayfield Much sound and fury; little else. 2 stars
12/20/03 john title is supposed to be an hoomage to Leone - well the movie sure isn't - actually boring 2 stars
12/02/03 Kooler Jennifer Aniston's old hair-do looks great on Banderas 3 stars
11/15/03 Ultron Banderas gives the perofrmance of his life in this entertaining film. 4 stars
11/08/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) I changed my mind. Rourke is OK too. You notice I changed my name again, b/c Depp KICKS ASS 5 stars
10/29/03 Paola Its cool. I wnat it on DVD NOW!!! 5 stars
10/23/03 Ann This one is worth it for some of the stunts. Depp saves it. "Johnny Saves" 4 stars
10/14/03 Lord Jiggy A bunch of quick cuts in search of coherence...whole thing should have been about Depp. 3 stars
10/10/03 Scarlett Fun! Loved this film but w/o Depp it would've bombed. Watch it for Depp and for the action. 5 stars
10/08/03 Azeneth I haven´t seen it, but I certainly will just to watch Depp and Banderas. 4 stars
10/07/03 ownerofdajoint saave your money;this thing is like a cartoon amok with no plot readily evident 2 stars
10/04/03 LM as bad as it gets 1 stars
10/02/03 snowconehead Fun, but gratuitous. Innocent people die every 3 minutes. Depp is awesome. 4 stars
10/01/03 MA Designs the movie was very good 4 stars
9/27/03 Mr. Hat Mariachi was good, Desperado was great, Mexico is 2 awesome. ALL except Rourke are GREAT. 5 stars
9/25/03 malcolm w/o awesome-as-usual Depp, this movie would've been unwatchable 2 stars
9/23/03 disappointed Thouroughly disappointed by this effort. RR could've done A LOT better. 2 stars
9/20/03 Lord Chu Simply AWESOME. I'm going to watch it again and again. 5 stars
9/20/03 Jack Bourbon Wow what a surprise 5 stars
9/20/03 greenmonster no one carried this film, it was miserable, I want my $6.50 back 1 stars
9/19/03 daryl M Depp carried the film 5 stars
9/18/03 ajay it was kinda cheesy... There were cool moments, but overall pretty crappy. 2 stars
9/17/03 karmap awesome 5 stars
9/17/03 Wolf Occasional flashes of artistic genius, but needs an EDITOR 3 stars
9/16/03 Wendy Agreed. "Plot" hard to follow, but Depp is quite enjoyable. Worth seeing. 4 stars
9/15/03 Worthy Slacker Eradically cut. Too many subplots that "El Marichi" gets lost. Saved by a kinetic Depp! 4 stars
9/15/03 Koitus Agree that the movie was WAY too many sub-plots. Unrealistic church shootem up scene also! 3 stars
9/15/03 jawsboy24 Average. Decent acting, but the action is mostly dull. Worth a look, but not great. **'s 3 stars
9/15/03 LoudChris Video isn't even close to film, but damn that was a rad flick. 5 stars
9/14/03 nick2k way too many subplots....that was its biggest flaw. no 'desperado', but an 'end' it is. 3 stars
9/14/03 escher Maybe not a "good" movie, but easily one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in awhile. 5 stars
9/14/03 Nicole Plots not developed - can be hard to follow. Great performance by Depp 4 stars
9/14/03 KING EDWARD what kind of a faggot name is starhawk? i hope you die - the movie is great 5 stars
9/14/03 Starhawk This is the most awful drivel I've seen this year. Terrible action sequences and lame plot 1 stars
9/13/03 michaelb14 enjoyable but a bit disjointed, seemed rushed, but overall a good asskicking film 4 stars
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  12-Sep-2003 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jan-2004



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