Once Upon a Time in Mexico

release year: 2003
genre: action
viewing setting: theater, 9/13/03

synopsis: The gunslinging mariachi is back as just one pawn in a complicated scheme.

impressions: This was no Desperado. In fact, it wasn't even close. The movie felt like an attempt to make an epic western using some of the characters from the last movie, but something didn't work, at least not for me. I can't even put my finger on it. There was plenty of violence, but it was burdened by a ridiculously complicated plot. The movie just didn't flow like a good action movie should. Also of note: Salma Hayek had about two minutes of screen time, all of it in flashbacks.

things to watch for: Mariachi's fight with bad guys at the beginning.

something this movie has that no other movie has: A flamethrowing guitar.

acting: Perhaps by intention, this was more Johnny Depp's movie than Antonio Banderas'. Depp was a quirky, half-good half-evil manipulator who probably got what he deserved. Banderas was the sometimes-violent shootist, but he wasn't nearly as cool as he was previously. Salma Hayek, as I said, was just collecting a paycheck here. Enrique Iglesias and Marco Leonardi were very entertaining as Mariachi's brothers. There were at least half a dozen others in supporting roles, and they were all unique and interesting. Maybe one problem of this movie was that it had too many characters?

final word: Vaguely entertaining, but far from the sequel I expected.

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