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Once Upon A Time In Mexico

2003 action film written, edited and directed by Robert Rodriguez

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A lesson In Really Bad Film Making

  • Oct 16, 2005
Pros: See Review

Cons: See Review

The Bottom Line: My recommendation: sit this one out!

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

Okay, I’ll admit it, the first time I saw Once Upon a Time in Mexico I turned the movie off half-way through because it was, well, boring despite all of the bullets whizzing through the dusty, arid Mexico City air. This was strange to me since I thoroughly enjoyed the second movie in this Robert Rodriguez trilogy, Desperado. Even lovely Eva Mendes and Salma Hayek were not enough to keep interested in this very convoluted movie.

But, I decided to give the film another chance, and this time I watched it all the way through. The results were the same; I was bored and cared not a wit about any of the characters in a movie that reminded me of a bad Spaghetti Western.

To his credit Robert Rodriguez has made this film truly his; i.e. he is the writer, director, director of photography, editor, production designer, composer, co-producer, so his personal stamp is all over this meandering, highly implausible film.

And then, there is of course Johnny Depp the films antagonist, but this time, not the film's hero, not the central focus. That honor falls to Antonio Banderas, who reprises his role 1995 Desperado role, Robert Rodriguez's sequel to his 1992 low-budget wonder, El Mariachi, about a violence-prone singing guitarist south of the border. A film I hasten to add I have never seen.

In this new episode, Once Upon a Time in Mexico El Mariachi has married his beautiful Desperado honey Salma Hayek, only to watch her and their daughter be gunned down by the local Army evildoer. El Mariachi himself is left for dead, but you just know he is out for revenge, whatever the cost to the local citizenry. The death of his wife and child is presented throughout the film in flashback, which is disconcerting.

The aforementioned Johnny Depp is a corrupt DIA agent (I think) named Sands, and is joined by his equally corrupt partner Eva Mendes, whose role I was never quite sure of. Depp, acting in his usually low-keyed manner leaves a trail of (pointless) bloodshed wherever he goes in pursuit of his goal, which I was never really sure of. The same goes for Eva; she was marvelous to look at but I was never sure what she was doing there.

In the end Once Upon a Time in Mexico was a lot of gun fights, explosions, double-crosses, and bloodshed without a real purpose. The movie was so convoluted and nonsensical that it was far from entertaining. If I want to watch a movie with little plot and a lot of beautiful women, I’ll pop in a porn flick thank you very much. It was as if Rodriguez forgot how to make a meaningful film, as if he phoned the film in from the South of France; even Depp could not save this pig of a movie. My recommendation: sit this one out!

Antonio Banderas - El Mariachi
Salma Hayek - Carolina
Johnny Depp - Sands
Mickey Rourke - Billy
Eva Mendes - Ajedrez
Danny Trejo - Cucuy
Enrique Iglesias - Lorenzo
Marco Leonardi - Fideo
Cheech Marin - Belini
Ruben Blades - Jorge
Willem Dafoe - Barillo
Gerardo Vigil - Marquez
Pedro Armendariz - El Presidente
Julio Oscar Mechoso - Advisor

Robert Rodriguez - Writer and Director


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Once Upon A Time In Mexico reviews
review by . June 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Once Upon a Time in Mexico is one of those very odd movies that I love for a ton of reasons, most of which really have nothing to do with the movie itself. It took me forever to actually sit down and watch this third entry (actually the forth if you count the fact that the third will probably never be filmed) in the Mariachi trilogy after missing it's initial run in theaters. It had been on the Netflix queue for ages and I'd heard nothing good about it from friends so it actually ended up arriving …
review by . March 19, 2009
Once Upon A Time In Mexico
How does one go about describing a movie so rarely ideal in every way? Well, I'll do the best I can. 'Once Upon A Time In Mexico' is a fun movie. It's "over-the-top" action is entertaining and sometimes humorous. Johnny Depp as Sands has gone over-the-top with his character also, a US agent (CIA?) infiltrating the Mexican cartels. (Rumor has it that Depp picked out his own dorky costumes for the role) He wants someone to kill Marquez, because Marquez is planning to kill the president, so he meets …
review by . May 17, 2009
Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the final film in the EL MARIACHI series. The fugitive couple from the last film (Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas) are still on the run from the criminals who've survived their last gun battle. We finally learn who's behind all of the EL Mariachi's troubles. Will he and his bride ever find peace and solace in the desert towns of Mexico? Can they ever settle down and raise a family? You'll find the questions to these answers and more when you watch ONCE UPON A TIME …
review by . January 21, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO is a hoot! Despite the fact that there is an incredible amount of violence, blood, explosions, and other forms of daring-do, Robert Rodriguez has such a good time galloping along on this adventure that it is difficult not to enjoy the ride. The sets and special effects are a terrific background for this hero adventure of El Mariachi, played to sheer perfection by Antonio Banderas. His sidekicks are the underused Marco Leonardi and Enrique Iglesias, the female pulcritude …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


The third and final film of the El Mariachi trilogy.

Starring Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Willem DaFoe, Michey Rourke, Salma Hayek
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Written by Robert Rodriguez

Product Description
Robert Rodriguez returns with the mythic guitar-singing hero, El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), in the third installment of the El Mariachi/Desperado trilogy. The saga continues as El Mariachi makes his way across a rugged landscape on the trail of Barrillo (Willem Dafoe), a kingpin who is planning a coup against the president of Mexico. Enlisted by Sands (Johnny Depp), a corrupt CIA agent, El Mariachi demands retribution, and the adventure begins. The character, made famous by Banderas, remains a slinger of guitars and guns, a tragic and bloodied hero, but a survivor forever.

DVD features
It's obvious that Robert Rodriguez has as much fun putting together a DVD as he does making a film. Start with his rapid-fire commentary track in which he spills forth everything from his overview of the Mariachi series to how he partly wanted to make the film just so he could use high-def cameras after he saw footage from Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Then listen to the score and sound effects in full bloom on the isolated track, supplemented by Rodriguez sharing stories, identifying themes, and playing demos. His comments are intermittent, but he tells you where to skip to if you just want to listen to him. His "Ten Minute Flick School," ...
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Director: Robert Rodriguez
Genre: Action, Adventure, Western
Release Date: 12 September 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Robert Rodriguez
DVD Release Date: January 20, 2004
Runtime: 102 min
Studio: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Dimension Films
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