Once Upon A Time In Mexico

Following a suggestion from Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez turned this third El mariachi installment into an homage to Sergio Leone. The result is a dull and campy 97-minute bloodbath offering little distinction between good guys and bad, on the basis either of character (Willem Dafoe’s cartel boss, Johnny Depp’s CIA agent) or of screen persona (Cheech Marin, Mickey Rourke, Ruben Blades). The only exception is the guitar-slinging hero (Antonio Banderas), more icon than character as he avenges the murder of his wife (Salma Hayek). Rodriguez shot this in seven weeks with a newly developed DV camera, which might be impressive if the results meant anything. But the editing is strictly MTV and the storytelling so confusing that I kept longing for the focused austerity of his 1993 El mariachi debut. (JR)

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