The Mexican (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/04/2001

1 stars out of 5
Running time: 124 mins

Extremely disappointing would-be romantic-comedy-thriller, fatally over-balanced by its top-heavy casting and then squashed flat by its non-sensical plot and complete absence of romance, laughs or thrills.

On paper it must have looked like a dream come true: two of the planet’s biggest stars (both prepared to waive their usual price, no less) in the capable hands of a director with at least one bona fide, off-beat hit behind him (Mouse Hunt) and a script that one assumes was initially quirky enough to attract the attention of Pitt and Roberts in the first place.

Sadly, somewhere along the line it all went horribly, horribly wrong. For starters, the plot is infuriating - not only is it incomprehensible in places, it also contrives to keep its two megastars apart for the main part of the film.

Pitt plays Jerry, a hapless loser who has been bullied into working for the local mob. His girlfriend Sam (Julia Roberts) tells him that they’re finished if he does any more jobs for them, but he’s coerced into going to Mexico to retrieve an antique pistol - the ‘Mexican’ of the title. In other words, Pitt and Robert share precisely two scenes together before she dumps him and high-tails it for Vegas, leaving him to head ‘down Mexico way’!

Once in Mexico, Jerry finds himself in a whole mess of trouble involving a corpse, rival gangs in pursuit of the gun, a stolen car and the small matter of a curse on the titular pistol. Meanwhile, the mob are so convinced Jerry is going to mess up that they send a hitman (James Gandolfini, aka TV’s Tony Soprano) to kidnap Sam as insurance. However, Gandolfini proves to be altogether more sensitive than your average hitman and he and Sam soon become best buddies and start exchanging self-help tips.

And if you thought it couldn’t get much worse than that, you’d be very very wrong!

Basically, anyone going to see The Mexican in order to see Brad and Julia together is going to be sorely disappointed. Firstly, as mentioned above, they’re apart for the majority of the film. And secondly, when they do appear onscreen together, there’s so little chemistry between them that it’s almost embarrassing to watch – there’s barely even a scene where they kiss.

They argue constantly, but their bickering is neither cute nor remotely funny, though it’s apparent that the film-makers thought otherwise. On top of this, both stars wildly over-act, with Pitt over-doing the ‘wave-your-arms-about’ routine he learned for 12 Monkeys and Roberts attempting to do ‘Quirky’ and failing miserably.

It has to be said that Gandolfini is by far the best thing in the film and if his participation in The Mexican helps him to become the Huge Great Star he deserves to be, then that will be A Good Thing. When he’s offscreen, however, the film suffers dreadfully. There’s decent support from Bob Balaban, but the film manages to completely waste the talents of both cult-actor-in-the-making David Krumholtz (from ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’) and An Unbilled Big Star (oh alright – it’s Gene Hackman) in a one-scene cameo.

On top of all this, the plot is strewn with some ridiculous holes – it’s never quite made clear just who is working for who and various characters mysteriously appear, disappear and re-appear without warning or any regard for narrative sense. In addition, Pitt’s character does something that the audience will find hard to forgive, and this is never properly addressed, so the film leaves an oddly unpleasant taste when it’s all over.

Even the score of the movie is irritating – it vainly attempts to rip off the score to Once Upon A Time In The West, but ends up suffering by comparison. To sum up, then, The Mexican is to be avoided at all costs, no matter how tempted you may be by the prospect of Pitt and Roberts onscreen together. Wait for the video, and then don’t rent that either. And if you insist on seeing it anyway, then don’t say you weren’t warned!

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The Mexican (15)
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Content updated: 20/10/2017 18:57

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