[MOVIE REVIEW]Over-the-top violence can be fun in ‘Mexico’

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Over-the-top violence can be fun in ‘Mexico’

Our favorite brow-furrowing, guitar-toting Mexican man of mystery is back on the scene, proving this time that if excessive violence and gore are done right, they can be really funny.
The third installment of the El Mariachi trilogy opens with a recap of pertinent details from its predecessor, “Desperado.” The story of El Mariachi (otherwise known as “El,” played by Antonio Banderas), as it is being relayed to CIA Agent Sands (Johnny Depp), had expanded to become an urban legend over the years; but then, what would a classical guitar-turned-bazooka surprise attack be without a stiletto-wearing, knife-hurling vixen with deadly aim? Latino street-fighters El and the gorgeous Carolina (Salma Hayek) made the perfect couple ― much to the chagrin of General Marquez (Gerardo Vigil), who thickened the plot by doing something pretty bad to Carolina in what we might call a fit of jealous rage. Luckily for Sands, who in this installation is looking to thwart Marquez’s plan to assassinate the Mexican president, El is a pre-loaded loose cannon who doesn’t need much provocation to do Sands’s bidding for him.
A host of other characters are entangled in the corrupt web, including the black-hearted drug lord Barillo (Willem Dafoe), who has ordered the hit on the Mexican president; retired F.B.I. Agent Jorge (Ruben Blades), who has it in for Barillo; sexy wild card Ajedrez (Eva Menendez), who makes sure to let her hair down before kicking butt, and, of course, the obligatory chihuahua.
For a movie that is ultimately supposed to be about El’s final revenge, he gets surprisingly little screen time, and despite her shameless exploitation as a major draw card, Hayek appears only a couple of times, in El’s memory. Mercifully, as it turns out. Besides Banderas’ murderous scowl and Hayek’s gravity-defying cleavage, there is little that defines their characters.
Depp, on the other hand, delivers another psychotically off-kilter performance on par with his interpretation of the loony pirate Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and he does it wearing a plethora of interesting sunglasses. Depp’s outtake-like humor and tossed-off tag-lines (“Are you a MexiCAN or a MexiCAN’T?”) exemplify the film’s refusal to take itself too seriously.
Exhilaratingly orchestrated shoot-’em-up scenes contain violence that gets excessive to the point of absurdity at times; the topper is a final bloodbath in the form of a coup d’etat, which conveniently transpires on the Day of the Dead. Still, a few cartwheeling bodies, shot-off kneecaps and exploding guitar cases are enough to allow us to suspend reality for a few hours and laugh at man’s predisposition to play at war. See for yourself who will be the last man ― or chihuahua ―standing.


“Once Upon a Time
in Mexico”
Action / English
102 min.
Now playing


by Kirsten Jerch

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