with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino
by Chad Van Wagner
Director Robert Rodriguiez takes his El Mariachi series and tries to expand it into epic territory. Can’t blame the man for trying, but…
This doesn’t mean that Once Upon A Time Mexico is a failure. Not exactly. The goofy, cartoonish action sequences from the first two films are here in full force, and if anything, it improves on the sheer straight-faced silliness that made the first two films so much fun.
No, the problem lies with the attempt to make a complex, multi-layered, epic tale. Melodrama (not to mention the borderline slapstick of the gunfights) is an incredibly difficult thing to mix with the genuine pathos the director is shooting for and, frankly, Rodriguez stumbles badly.
Perhaps if the film didn’t star everyone under the sun… Beyond the return of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, the film also stars Johnny Depp (brilliant as usual,) Mickey Rourke (not so brilliant,) William Dafoe (underused,) Enrique Iglesias (!), and a virtually ignored Eva Mendez. That’s not even taking into account Ruben Blades, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin…
Not only am I getting away from the point, I’m doing it in the same way Rodriguez loses the multiple threads of the film’s hopelessly convoluted plot. There are so many elements that none of them has time to take shape. While Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a noble attempt to take the flagrantly ridiculous and blend it with the serious, that’s only worked once: John Woo’s The Killer. That’s because Woo kept it simple. And even Woo hasn’t been able to do it again.
All negativity aside, Once Upon a Time in Mexico would still make for an outstanding evening of dumb entertainment. Just keep the remote handy, and don’t think too closely about what could’ve been.