Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Reviewed By Dennis Swennumson
Posted 01/22/04 16:39:21

"It all comes together..."
5 stars (Awesome)

The greatest element of “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is the seemingly one-man crew, Robert Rodriguez that created it. Rodriguez is a rarity in movies, he is best known for staying true to his cinematic ideals and influences with an incredibly original approach to filmmaking. His first film, “El Mariachi” was produced for a mere $7,000, and its studio backed sequel, “Desperado” was made for $7,000,000. “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”-written, directed, edited, shot, and scored by Rodriguez- continues the saga of a gun slinging mariachi entrenched in the Mexican underworld. It is a film that will bring in new fans and please the die-hards who have followed Rodriguez’ career since the first film.

In a plot that doesn’t require viewing the first two films, semi-corrupt CIA Agent Sands, played by Johnny Depp, trying to thwart a coup involving the Mexican President, a rogue military general and prominent drug lord. The details are complicated, not necessarily hard to follow, and Sands seeks out the mythical vigilante/hitman El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), who has his own stake in the situation after a tragedy within his family. In a loaded and talented cast- Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke and Enrique Iglesias- Banderas and Depp play their parts perfectly, Banderas with a quiet grief contrasting Depp and his always-entertaining odd complexities.

The stunts and action sequences, from a 5th story hotel escape to a dirt bike chase, rival that of any action film Michael Bay has ever obliterated our sense of good movies with. The film is paced well and is surprisingly logical for a movie about rogue military leaders, low lives and government agents in a virtually lawless state resembling comic book lore. The crowning achievement of the trilogy, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is the best action film of the year. Coupled with his other famous series, the family friendly Spy Kids franchise, Rodriguez proves himself to be one of the most talented and passionate filmmakers of our time.

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