New release ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ a flop

By on September 25, 2003

Once Upon a Time in Mexico has been a box office mainstay since its release in theaters Sept. 12. As you can tell from the previews, it stars many well-known and well-liked actors, including Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, and Enrique Iglesias. Moviegoers are probably automatically imagining that this movie must be extraordinary if all these celebrities are in it, but in this case, that is a wrong assumption.

Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film was very poorly put together. It was unorganized and too fast-paced, because there were many different characters, each having their own separate story lines. This made it very hard to follow everything that was going on and it was extremely difficult to decipher who were the good guys, the bad guys, and who was hired to kill whom.

The directing and editing were appalling. Once the characters had been introduced and the story opened, the movie jumped continuously from one scene to the next. There was constant violence, gunfire and murders that did not leave much room for worthy dialogue. In fact, the only things worth listening to are Depp’s witty comments throughout the film.

Through all the pandemonium, Depp was able to somehow hold the movie together. He steals every scene that he is in with his dry humor and excellent acting, making his role the only part of the movie that was enjoyable.

With the confusing plot, poor dialogue, and horrible editing, Depp did a wonderful job at keeping the movie from being a complete failure. However, it is hard to believe that a man who has just had his eyes gouged out would be able to maintain his wit and sense of humor, as seen at one point in the film.

Although it is extremely hard to follow, the plot is basically this: A corrupt CIA agent, Sands (Depp) hires a retired gunman, El Mariachi (Banderas) to kill evil General Marquez (Gerardo Vigil). Marquez has been hired by Barilla (Willem Dafoe), an overruling drug lord, to assassinate the president of Mexico, so that he can take his place. Mariachi then hires two of his friends (one of them played by Latin crooner Iglesias) to be part of his “team” to kill Marquez.

Years ago Marquez killed Mariachi’s wife (Hayek) and their daughter, out of jealousy, and after Mariachi went into hiding, he secretly wanted revenge on Marquez. Flashbacks were used to illustrate Mariachi’s life, making the story more confusing.

If you were not completely lost already, Rodriguez decided to throw in yet another important character. Retired FBI agent Jorge (Ruben Blades) is also hired by Agent Sands. Barilla had killed Jorge’s partner before he was retired. Jorge was convinced by Agent Sands to take revenge on Barilla for this act.

Overall, this entire film was incoherent and confusing. The only good parts about it were some of the special effects, and Depp’s ability to perform well under any conditions. Once Upon a Time in Mexico gets a rating of two popcorn buckets out of five: Wait for the video.


About Kimberly Vanderhoef