Once Upon A Time in Mexico

This is no time to screw the pooch, because this is supposed to be the big dance number, all right?

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * · · · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )

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My relationship with Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the same kind of relationship a parent would have with a drug-addicted son. He's a dope addict, but they still love him. Mexico doesn't have any of the simplicity of "Desperado". It has little of the charm. I cannot stand a world where a movie that could have been so cool turned out to suck so I chose to like it. I like Once Upon a Time in Mexico, goddamnit. But with horror I must admit, it is not a good movie.

The greatest part of Mexico is the CIA agent played by Johnny Depp. I heard that Depp's Keith Richards-like persona in the Bruckheimer monstrosity "Pirates of the Caribbean" was the only good quality of the movie. I refuse to watch a film from the makers of Coyote Ugly teamed with the goose-stepping empire behind Mickey Mouse so I skipped it. Depp in Mexico is smart, psychotic, quick, good looking, and funny. He's the reason to see this movie. He steals the show from Bandaras who only seems to be in the movie for fifteen minutes.

The story of Mexico is a mess. Unlike Desperado's plot of perhaps six words ("A Mexican guitar player seeks revenge"), Mexico is the Gone with the Wind of splattering gun flicks. There are about sixteen main characters, none of them as cool as Depp, whose lives seem almost completely interwoven. You'll miss half the story on the first viewing and be completely bored with it on the second.

The action is what drove Desperado to the top of action movie lists and it isn't too bad in Mexico but its buried under the dead weight of the story. There are some nice dramatic shots but they cannot save the movie.

The director's commentary on Mexico is the reason to own the movie. After listening to Rodregez for an hour and a half, I am completely sold that High Definition recording is the best way to make a low or mid budget movie. For film buffs, the commentary is worth the price of the disc. The DVD looks and sounds good with a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced transfer and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There are some nice extras beyond the commentary, but the commentary is worth every minute.

More than any other movie I wanted to like this one. I had been looking forward to it since Desperado and still have the poster hanging up in my bed room. I expected a new version of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" but I got about seven other main characters in there as well. With some serious editing, this could have been a great movie. With the mess of a plot, I cannot recommend it, as much as it pains me to say so.