Review Date: September 08, 2003
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Producers: Robert Rodriguez, Carlos Gallardo, Elizabeth Avellan
Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi
Johnny Depp as Agent Sands
Salma Hayek as Carolina
What doesn't work in the film? A number of things including a so-so plotline, too many characters, many of whom barely have any screen-time and a handful of video transfers that looked a little too "real" (the whole film was shot on digital video cameras) or straight-to-video. The film's score rocked though, as did its overall gorgeous "look", with the DV really bringing out the vivid colors of the Mexican culture. But at the end of the day, really...the movie wouldn't be "all that" were it not for the one thing that truly takes it to that next level: the cast! How can you go wrong with a bunch of kickass, coolass, fineass muthas like Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Antonio Banderas, Willem Dafoe, Danny Trejo acting the shite and blowing people away, while hotties like Hayek and big-boobed Eva Mendes glide around looking hot and also kicking ass! Well, you can't...really! Depp, especially, continues to steal the show, with yet another uber-charismatic performance as the CIA operative with a number of seemingly interrelated contacts with whom he meets "undercover" (loved the T-shirts, the CLASH OF THE TITANS lunchbox and the marijuana belt-buckle...sweet!) Depp is just too cool for words here, and his final "walk to the finish line" is definitely one for the books (and such lovely eyes!) Banderas was also cool as shite and it didn't hurt that he added a little bit of grace and romance to his man. I still have no idea what Enrique Iglesias was doing in this movie, but I guess that's a "Latin thang". In the end, if you liked EL MARIACHI, enjoyed DESPERADO...ONCE UPON A TIME MEXICO is sure to twist your tittie as well.
One thing I will say to Rodriguez is that it's time for him to take his obvious talent, efficient nature and "power" as a grade-A Hollywood helmer, and make an epic motion picture, something substantial, something that will have something to say, awe folks and take him to that next level a la Tarantino, Jackson, Raimi or Del Toro. You've paid your dues, had your fun...now show us what you've really got, moochacho! So yes, this wasn't the all-out awesome movie that I was expecting, but it was fun, featured the ultimate cast of the year, got my blood pumpin' in several scenes, cracked me up in others and definitely had me sprinting for the border, hoping to get shot by a cool man dressed in black serving me tequila while "getting hand" from a local barmaid and a kick in the cajones by the lovely Salma Hayek. Yeah...that's the ticket.