The Mexican is not fast enough to be a thriller; it's a slow action movie, with melodramatic stretches. It's easy to imagine the script by first-timer JH Wyman being made into a small independent film, but the big-budget casting belies the independent feel.Brad Pitt plays the hapless guy sent to Mexico to retrieve a fancy pistol ("the Mexican" of the title) as a last errand for some local gangsters. His feisty girlfriend, for whom this last job is one too many, is played by Julia Roberts. She wants nothing more to do with him, and heads off alone on their planned weekend in Vegas. That is, until she's taken hostage by Leroy (James Gandolfini), to discourage Jerry (Pitt) from stealing the gun for himself.
Once Samantha (Roberts) and Leroy talk, they find they have something in common - relationship trouble - and they begin to hit it off. The interaction between these two volatile characters is far more engrossing than Brad Pitt continually losing a gun. Nevertheless, Pitt is believable as boy-man Jerry, who spends the film extricating himself from the messes he inadvertently causes. Samantha thinks he's afraid of commitment - but he's just unable to plan ahead, and blind to the consequences of his actions. Pitt makes Jerry's unabashed blokiness charming, almost endearing, so you can understand why Samantha went out with him.
Director Gore Verbinski (Mouse Hunt) and producers Lawrence Bender and John Baldecchi know to keep Jerry and Samantha apart to prevent the movie sinking under the weight of Pitt and Roberts' combined star power. Unfortunately, The Mexican sinks anyway because it's way too long. It could have ended satisfactorily at any number of arbitrary points after the hour and a half mark but crawls on for nearly 35 minutes more. It outstays its welcome because Verbinski and Wyman mistakenly assume the audience will be fascinated by the history of a fancy pistol, instead of wanting to see character interaction or whether Pitt and Roberts get back together.Verbinski and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski have made a handsome looking film. The action is nicely punctuated by a memorable refrain from Alan Silvestri.