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"The Mexican"

Directed by Gore Verbinski.
Written by J.H. Wyman. 
Starring Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  3/3/01 


The night had gone pretty well.  My good friend Jess (or, as she is known to many Bellviewers, Jess "Perfect Bacon" Gilmour, for her amazing bacon-making prowess) just moved up to DC from Richmond so we were going to have dinner and take in a flick.  We called ahead to Sweetwater Tavern so that we could essentially walk in and get a table, which we did without a problem.  Our waitress gave us extra Ozzie Rolls, which are the doughnut-like warm bread rolls that are the best reason to go eat at a Sweetwater, and they were damn good.  The dinner entree was excellent, twin grilled chicken breasts over a bed of heaping pasta.  I was riding such a high that I even had a beer (!!!) at my dinner.

We got to the theater, and since we bought our tickets BEFORE having dinner, we got to skip the line and head right into the seated area.  And, the previews were all pretty good:  the upcoming animated medieval comedy "Shrek", the summer's big event movie "Pearl Harbor" and a John Travolta spy thriller called "Swordfish."  I was pretty psyched up by the time our movie was set to begin.

Just before the theater went completely dark, though, I looked around to see how packed it was.  I mean, this is a Julia Roberts opening weekend film.  It was loud in there, and the requisite number of teenagers were talking on their cell phones...but, it was only about a third full in there.  Literally only 100 of the roughly 300 seats in there were filled with warm bodies.  I was shocked at this:  it was the 10 PM show on a Friday night; for "Hannibal", 10 PM shows nationwide were sold out its opening weekend.  I thought this was supposed to be a big movie!  Brad Pitt!  Julia Roberts!  James Gandolfini, from "The Sopranos"!!  What the hell is going on!

But, my shock was brief.  The lights went down, and the movie started.

And, ugh, ugh, ugh!

I am going to keep this as simple as possible.  The plot involves Jerry (Pitt) and Sam (Roberts), two lovers who are just getting ready to head off to Vegas when the film opens.  Jerry is hoping to get out of the criminal courier business, where he completes odd jobs for a crime boss named Nailon.  However, Nailon hooks him into one last job:  recover a legendary cursed pistol called "The Mexican" from a small town in Mexico (I know, shocking) and bring it back to Los Angeles.  Oh, and if he doesn't take the job, Nailon will kill him.  So, Jerry knows that he has to go...but Sam puts her foot down and tells Jerry that if he goes to Mexico to recover the pistol, then she is going to leave him.  Naturally, the two split, and almost the entire film has Jerry searching for, and trying to keep up with, the pistol, while Sam is tracked and captured by a Nailon hitman.  This hitman, a gay, dancing killer named Leroy (Gandolfini), is trying to use Sam as bait for Jerry to not take any chances with trying to sell the pistol on his own.

The problems with this movie well outnumber the positives, so I will just say this about "The Mexican"--the only reason you have to go and see this movie is James Gandolfini.  His performance is excellent; he somehow convinces you that he can be a ruthless assassin and a flaming hot homosexual in back-to-back sequences.  There is a scene where he exchanges glances with an interested party in a diner that is just classic...but, this is mixed with a couple of shootings that are very dark and totally cold-blooded.  He's funny and touching all at the same time, and his scenes are too few in a movie that could really use more of him.

And, that is it.  This movie almost put Jess to sleep in the middle, and it runs on almost a half-hour too long; at one point, Jerry forgets something as he is trying to leave Mexico, and almost everyone in the theater groaned when they realized that the movie was far from over.  Roberts and Pitt look like they are playing themselves, and if you seeing "The Mexican" to see them in action together, you should know that they only have four or five scenes together and none of them is very long.  Pitt gets more to do here and he relies on way too much physical comedy to make his role work (more the script's fault than Pitt's fault), this leads to a lot of his shrugging of the shoulders when things go wrong, and a LOT of things go wrong in Mexico.  Oh, and it would have been nice to know why The Mexican is called The is just a pistol made in Mexico, and the best they could come up with was The Mexican?  If I am going to invent a fucking legendary pistol, I'm going to call it something cool.  Imagine that sword from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" not being called Green Destiny, but being called Chinese Sword.  How stupid is that?

Like many people last night (due to our small in-house crowd), skip "The Mexican" and rent a movie instead.  This one is no good.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09