Once Upon a Time in Mexico
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  • Thrice Upon a Theme in Hollywood
    A disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised by Rodriguez's first film in the trilogy, El Mariachi: an independent effort in the good sense of the word, with signs of originality, some authentic atmosphere, and -- most unusual in the thriller genre -- even a little bit of heart. I should have stopped there, I guess, or maybe checked out the second in the series, Desperado (which I haven't seen).

    In the interim, Rodriguez had clearly become a "bankable" writer/director/you name it. (According to the credits he seems to have had a hand in almost every creative aspect of the film; you get the feeling the only reason he didn't design the costumes was lack of time.)

    Certainly various parties must have shoved huge wads of bills in each of his pockets and told him, go forth and multiply our money.

    Once Upon a Time in Mexico has all the hallmarks of a big-budget action picture, which today primarily means lots of computer-generated effects plus high-profile stars. None of the latter offer much to appreciate, and Johnny Depp is nearly unwatchable with an absurdly fey, oh-so-ironic performance as a bent CIA agent. The only decent performance is by Ruben Blades, who brings some inwardness and dignity to his role as a retread FBI agent.

    Rodriguez hasn't entirely lost his aptitude: there are cinematic coups here and there, and once in a while when the movie slows down to catch its breath between bloodbaths it becomes almost human. But way too much of the action is just a calculated, routine splatterfest in a sub-Peckinpah mode. ...more info
  • Once there were some idiots who thought they could direct
    If I had known Desperado was going to have a follow-up I would have rushed to the store at once to find it, but in fact I just stumbled over it and I wish I hadn't.

    It continues where Desperado ended, showing scenes where Mariachi's (Banderas) girlfriend (Carolina - Hayek) is killed by her ex-boyfriend. A corrupt CIA agent offers him a deal he can't turn away : revenge.

    It works now and then, but too often it's too confusing and too many links and scenes that in my opinion could have been deleted and just left out, but then the movie would only be 30 min (OK by me).

    It's an OK movie if you have nothing better to do a friday night, but to call this the sequel to Desperado is just taking it TOO far. ...more info
  • An Excellent Movie IMO
    Once Upon a Time in Mexico is one of those movies that people either love or hate. I loved it, but could see why people would hate it. Some of the subplots could have been explained better plus some characters' history could have explained like what is the connection of the Barillo cartel and El and why did they put a price on his head. But beside that this is a really good movie with good acting and some epic action scences. Antonio Banderas returns as El Mariachi joined by Johnny Depp as a bad guy who in the end becomes sort of a good guy. Good supporting cast includes Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Selma Hayek, Eva Mendes, Cheech Marin, Rueben Blades, and even Enrique Iglesias. Highly Recommended but see the first two first....more info
  • Johnny Depp and Antonio Banderas are better than ever
    after the hugely summer of 2003's Pirates Of The Caribbean, Johnny Depp (Secret Window, Finding Neverland) returns as a corrupt Agent named Sands who brings Antonio Banderas (Evita, The Body) gun toting El Mariachi out of hiding...soon Banderas is brought into a web of double and triple crosses involving something to do with overthrowning the president. Banderas spins, flings, soars, jumps, rolls and just does about every thing in this movie and Depp gives us another enjoyable and unforgettable character as he gets all the highlights in this movie. Depp doesnt do all the things Banderas does but he does lose his eyes towards the end. Also starring Willem Dafoe (upcoming XXX:State Of The Union, Shadow OF The Vampire), Eva Mendes (Hitch, Stuck on You), Mickey Rourke (Spun, Angel Heart), Danny Trejo (From Dusk Till Dawn, Anchorman), Cheech Marin (Tv's Nash Bridges, Christmas With The Kranks), Enrique Inglesias, Ruben Blades (Color Of Night, Devils Own) and Salma Hayek (Frida, Dogma). Hayek doesnt have a big part in this movie basically because she's just in flashbacks. Good action scenes makes this third installment of Robert Rodriquez's trilogy a grand ride even though its not as good as Desperado or El Mariachi...its still bloody good fun....more info
  • Bad to the bone
    One major character is blinded, but continues to shoot up the place. I would have better spent my time by closing my eyes and resting up. Watch anything but this waste of time and talent....more info
  • Good scenes, but not much of a big picture
    After watching Desperado, I was excited to see this movie coming out, especially knowing that Selma Hayek was in this one also. Seeing Johnny Depp joining the film as an American agent promised a good film. Unfortunately, I really don't feel the film quite coalesced into a coherent whole.

    Parts of the movie are flashbacks, which prevent us from getting a solid flow. Although flashbacks often work, I never quite got the feeling that all the flashbacks helped us understand what was happening in the present day. We are also introduced to characters, which have their pasts hinted at (like the former FBI agent or the other two members of the mariachi band), but we never get enough of the characters to feel that they fit. They seem more like a quick plot device used to fill a gap.

    The movie has Johnny Depp playing the role of an agent trying to stay in control of the situation. His character is tough as well as funny. Some of his lines will stay with you, as the director or writer seemed to make him a second focal point for the movie, which does not seem to have helped.

    The movie also has Willem DaFoe, but I really don't feel that I saw his character much. I have the feeling that maybe his big scenes had been cut from the movie. He seems out of place.

    If you are a die-hard fan of one of the actors in the film, then I would see it. Otherwise, I would recommend giving this one a slip....more info

  • Don't bother
    Awful. Johnny Depp plays a crazy CIA agent who tends to shoot people a lot. Just that is seriously laughable to watch. He is involved in a plot to assassinate a president of Mexico. Wait, he wants to kill somebody named general(who has a nice big mustache and scowls a lot) Marquez who wants to kill the president( and Johnny Depp's character doesn't care if he gets killed). That brings us to Antonio Banderas who wants revenge on Marquez for killing his wife(again?). With me so far? Antonio Banderas looks very handsome and spends most of his time walking around with a guitar and shooting a lot of bad guys who come out at him from all directions. There is a lot more to the plot but its so dumb that I don't even want to bother repeating it. Needless to say I pity anyone who actually bought this movie sight unseen and wasted their hard earned money. I love action movies but this is a joke....more info
  • Guerilla Warfare With Hollywood Flair
    Anyone interested in how bad a $30 million film can be? Keep reading.

    "Once Upon A Time In Mexico" is a blow-em' up, shoot-em' up fiasco, replete with an ensemble cast that fails to impress. Antonio Banderas reprises his role as El Mariachi (emphasis on the "El") and this time nearly the entire state of Mexico has a bounty on his head. The film's continued saga from the prequels "El Mariachi" and 1995's more notable "Desperado" suffers from clich¨¦ grand¨¦, El now avenging the brutal murder of his wife and daughter.

    The rest of the plot is completely nonsensical and I won't bother to explain. I can't really remember what it was anyway, seeing as how it was so ridiculous and I decided instead to pay attention to the smoldering visages of Johnny Depp and Antonio Banderas. I'm sure that doesn't help out the straight men that are reading this. Well, tough.

    But this might. Salma Hayek, who played the voluptuous (and I underlined that part) Carolina in "Desperado", also reprises her role but only in retrospect, her screen time made extremely brief due to the flashbacks she appears in. Perhaps she was too absorbed in the labor of love that became "Frida" (shoots for "Once Upon a Time" were deferred to accommodate her schedule with director Julie Taymor) and Rodriguez decided that what little he got out of her would be first dibs for the cutting-room floor. Despite this, Hayek still got top billing. I guess that million-dollar salary speaks for itself, eh?

    Depp is an excellent character actor but his outing as Sands is beneath him. I only wish that HE had been the star of the show or at least had a much more substantial amount of time on camera. For a 40-year old man that doesn't look a day over 25 (and that's not an exaggeration on my part), he should've gotten a lot more face time, if you ask me. He soon made up for that with all of his "Pirates of the Carribean" films, not to mention winning a Golden Globe for 2007's "Sweeney Todd".

    The addition of Latin crooner Enrique Iglesias (Lorenzo) to the cast is a little bit laughable but the sultry singer manages not to embarrass himself too much - he had more talent in his music videos, I'm sorry to say (except for "Hero" - GAG ME). Willem Dafoe looks impressive as the villainous Barillo but fails to convince as soon as he opens his mouth to speak English, much less Spanish. Ruben Blades is a disappointment as Jorge, a retired FBI agent who gets back into the game to bag a little retaliation of his own for a murdered partner. Who embarrasses the most is Mickey Rourke as Billy, one of Barillo's lackeys and certainly the most pathetic. The only thing I found redeeming about him was Moco, the adorable little Chihuahua he toted everywhere.

    The many explosions and gunfire may provide action buffs satisfaction o' plenty, but the bang for a lady's buck comes from watching two gorgeous men (Depp, Banderas) prove that age ain't nothing but a number.
    ...more info
  • "This is so good, I have to kill the cook."
    The Good Things
    *Very good video and sound quality.
    *Includes a great deal of special features, such as commentaries, a bunch of featurettes, and trailers.
    *Loads of great action scenes. These are probably the best shoot-outs in the entire Mexico trilogy.
    *Still well-filmed and well-edited.
    *Great writing.
    *Good acting; interesting characters.
    *Good music.

    The Bad Things
    *Storyline is pretty convoluted, and can be hard to follow.
    *There are so many characters in this movie that it can be hard to remember who's who and what they want and so on.

    The Other Things
    *The film is mostly in English, with subtitles for Spanish-speaking parts.

    Although this doesn't quite outdo "Desperado" or even the original "El Mariachi," "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" is wildly entertaining. The action scenes are its greatest strength, for they are bigger (almost epic in scale) and great fun to watch. The characters are great, even if there are dozens of them. The only thing that really suffers is the story, which can be difficult to comprehend. Still, most action movie fans will like this....more info
  • Once upon a time in mexico
    Obviously , it is a really personnal movie. Robert Rodriguez certainely had a lot of fun to do this film. The character from Johnny Deep is incredible....more info
  • Once upon a time a Mariachi!

    In Hollywood the condition of the hero changes from decade in decade. It's not a mere casualty in the Thirties until the first half of the Forties, the role of the hero was substituted by the antihero: Gary Cooper and Clark Gable were the genuine ambassadors in this aspect. In the second half of the forties, John Wayne becomes the legendary hero in the far West. In the Fifties the anti hero returns with several faces; the new generations emerged after the bloody WW2 found in James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando the expression of rebelliousness and anti conformism; and while Humphrey Bogart, Richard Widmarck and William Holden in the first half and then Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman and Lee Marvin became hard to die schemes of non conformist individuals represented the dark side of the moon respect the ambiguities and desolation of the Cold War, for the adults who lived in own flesh the horror of the War; Cary Grant, James Stewart, Gregory Peck and Ernest Borgnine were the good guys. But there was a third way, still unexplored; the mythic hero that found in Kirk Douglas the perfect personage. In the sixties, Steve Mac Queen, Jon Voight assumed the role of the wanderer. The Seventies in the first half were two urban heroes in their respective forties emerged: Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson; the second half of the Seventies was represented by Sylvester Stallone (the humble hero) and directly from Australia Mel Gibson (Mad Max) embodied the role of the future hero. The Eighties returned with imported figure of a new vision of antihero of intergalactic origin: Schwarzenegger (Terminator, Command and Predator) Harrison Ford ( through the most emblematic films of that decade Blade runner) Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Chuck Norris, Wilhelm Defoe (Platoon) and Kevin Costner (The untouchables and Silverado) in law's defense. But with the Nineties perhaps initiated the acidic mockery of this genre, you should remember three films that revitalize and sharp the antihero (Dance with wolves and The unforgiven and American Beauty), featured by Bruce Wills' bitter gaze (in Die hard I, II and III, Mercury rising and Armageddon), Keanu Reeves (Matrix) or John Travolta (Pulp fiction) and finally Mel Gibson would feature the role of the tragic hero in "Brave heart" while the actual decade would seem have found a new revival in Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Brad Pitt (Achilles in Troy).

    Smartly Robert Rodriguez knew about the orphanage around the essence of the hero in the Latin American universe, and then proceeded to represent in Antonio Banderas (The appropriate emblem of the new generations) supported by an exceptional cast featuring Johnny Depp as an irreverent and even surrealist agent from the CIA, a dark and sinister personage (Wilhelm Defoe) in a extremely blooded film, that essentially availed the whole meaning of the violence in the most strict sense conferred by Sam Peckinpah (The wild bunch) in what concerns to present heroes without past and very doubtful future, absolutely not related with the values of the civilization. Remember the last wish of The Mariachi when responses to his wife "To be free" as his supreme aspiration and undeniable bliss.

    Visually stunning provided of a devilish, engaging, energetic and frenetic rhythm.

    The only default: Enrique Iglesias (who pitifully was the only (actor?) who looked absolutely unfocused and seemed to be in a video clip instead a real movie, what a mess!)
    ...more info
  • Violent, very funny, over the top and absurd.

    In a cast of many fine actors Johnny Depp steals the show.
    Set in modern day the movie starts with Johnny Depp (a CIA agent named Sands) talking to his informant (Cheech Marin) about a mythical figure a gunslinger and guitarist named El Mariachi (Antonio Bandaras) in order to find him to help him carry out his plan. The plan? Well, the plan is convoluted to say the least. It involves the assassination of the Mexican president and?the killing of a sadistic general (who killed El Mariachi's wife and child) who is protected by a powerful and equally sadistic drug lord Barillo (played by William DaFoe). The general wants to over throw the President, somthing Sands is all for, but he wants the general dead as well. The assignment given to El Mariachi by Depp's character is to in the confusion of the coup kill the general something which El Mariachi would be more than pleased to do. The culmination of all of the action takes place on the Mexican Day of the Dead.
    Agent Sands is a busy little spook. From there Sands meets up with retired FBI agent Jorge (played by Ruben Blades). Agent Jorge has some of his own unfinished business as he had spent years trying to track down Barillo but Jorge declines Sands prodding to take out Barillo at least at first until Agent Sands reminds Jorge? about what Barillo had done to the FBI agent's partner. Here the stage is set.
    Are you confused already?? If you watch this movie prepared to become confused even more as the story takes more twists than an epileptic snake. However if you like action movies this movie is worth ever minute.
    Depp continues to weave in an out of the story doing his best as the quirky, creepy, wisecracking sadistic runt who tries to be the puppet master. In the end even Agent Sands shows a heroic side in a type of "high noon" that is in and of itself worth the price of the movie. The climax of the movie explodes in violence and in wildly beautiful and dramatic images with a few touches of the absurd thrown in. The score is beautiful but sometimes overpowers the dialogue.
    A guilty pleasure that I highly recommend....more info
  • Snap out of it Banderas!!!
    You know what a good definition of a crime is? A crime is when you have Salma Hayek in a movie and don't use her. A crime is when you have an action movie and there are long non-action sequences that aren't very interesting. A crime is when you have Antonio Banderas, who is so good doing a part like this, trying to do too many other things (okay, that's a crime that too many other movies committed, not this movie). Which movie am I talking about? Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the culprit. This is a stylish movie in the same vein as his earlier Desperado and El Mariachi, but it's not quite as good.

    One of the problems is the plot. It's convoluted even for an action flick. Desperado was easy. A drug kingpin who El Mariachi (Banderas) was after for personal reasons controls a town, and our hero has to fight him. Once Upon a Time in Mexico, however, is much more political, with the president of Mexico in line for assassination. A rogue CIA agent (Johnny Depp), instead of trying to stop it, is trying to profit from it by asking El Mariachi to kill the leader of the rebel army in charge of the assassination (Gerardo Vigil), who also happens to be the man who killed El Mariachi's wife (Salma Hayek). Confused? I still am, and I watched the thing. He also sets a retired FBI agent (Reuben Blades) after Barillo (Willem Defoe), who is the drug kingpin who had the agent's partner tortured and murdered. So, basically, everybody's supposed to die, and the CIA agent is supposed to get something out of all this? I actually thought I understood it a little bit until I tried to explain it.

    While the plot is very murky, the action set-pieces are great. Unrealistic, but they usually are in movies like this. That's part of the charm. Banderas falls of a church balcony, shooting upward and killing his assailant, then lands on his back and just rolls over and gets up. You don't watch these things for the realism, however. You watch them for the style. Rodriguez has style in spades, and the scenes are very enjoyable to watch. Head shots, leg shots, blood flying every where. Bodies jumping, in a graceful pirouette as the bullets spatter, it's all great. Especially good is the shootout in the church, especially when they all pause to let the little old woman who hasn't reacted to this at all get out of the line of fire.

    There's just not enough of them. Instead, Banderas broods. Then he broods again. I guess he has to brood a lot, because Rodriguez has to justify Hayek's salary. She only appears in flashbacks of the good times, and the time where she is killed (which is repeated a number of times). She's the only beauty in this tough film (there is one other woman, Eva Mendez, but while she's quite beautiful, she's tough as nails), so we need the occasional interlude. When Banderas isn't brooding, Depp is plotting. Occasionally, Defoe is plotting. Even more occasionally, Blades is plotting. Then we get back to Depp plotting. Do you get the idea that there's a lot of plotting going on? Everybody double-crosses at least one other person in this film.

    So much for the plot. How's the acting? Given the nature of the film, it's actually quite good. Banderas was born for this role, and it's a shame he doesn't do things like this more often. He might actually make a name for himself. He broods quite well (despite the fact that I think he's made to do too much of it, he's very good at it). Hayek doesn't do anything to really justify her being second billing in the movie, but that's hardly her fault. She's barely in it. Depp is a virtuoso as usual, too bad his character is completely incomprehensible. He acts insane at times (like his first scene which begins a running joke about his favourite dish down in Mexico). He's hardly undercover (he wears a "CIA Agent" t-shirt at one point) and he seems superfluous to the whole thing. It's only Depp's acting which makes his role even watchable. Nobody else is given much to do, though I have to single out Mickey Rourke as really annoying. His character is even worse. That may be because I just don't like watching Rourke, however. I also have to mention Cheech Marin. It seems like he's in every Robert Rodriguez movie (though I don't know about the Spy Kids franchise), and every time he meets a bad end. One's given a bit of hope in this one, but to no avail. He plays his part really well, and I started to feel sorry for him when I realized that there's no way he's going to survive. It's sort of like Steve Buscemi in a Coen Brothers movie: no chance. It's actually quite funny.

    If you've followed the El Mariachi series, then it's worth it to pick this one up. The action scenes are worth it if you're already a fan. Just be prepared to be puzzled by the plot. This certainly is not a good place to start your Rodriguez journey, however.

    David Roy...more info

  • Movie good, extras even better...
    I like the featurets included in the DVD. The director takes you to his home/studio and shows you his soundmixing equipent and breaks down a few of the effects. He also does a short teaching you how to cook a Mexican dish eaten in the film. Anybody who has any interest in filmaking, or cooking will like the bonus features. ...more info
  • Once upon a caricature!
    What can I say ... awful!

    Being a fan of Once upon a time in the West and Once Upon a time in China I can safely say that this film is a franchise killer and never even came close to being in the same league as the other two. This film was so heavily stylized that it became a total cartoon with no believability whatsoever. If the audience was 14 year old boys who've just had their first beer ... sure, great film! This was just too much of a catalogue of cliche's for my taste.

    What a waste of star power also ... Banderas, Depp, Rourke, Blades, Mendes, Defoe! Eee gad what a total waste! There was no storyline and infact this felt more like a series of filmed images from a vogue fashion shoot, the cringe-a-thon just didn't let up. It should be said that Depp and Blades characters were the redeeming features of the film whilst failing that there is nothing here worth salvaging for any thinking human being.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Dusk til Dawn and films like that because those films had a sound balance of storyline and characterization set hard against the juxtaposition of the ridiculous; hey, who can't dig that? I remember watching the original film Desperado and thinking ... whats the big deal here? That was awful also!

    Bottom line ... crap....more info
  • Not a great sequal
    This movie was supposed to be a sequal for Desperado, however with the exception of Antonio Banderas being EL Meriachi, and a few glimpses at Salma Hayek it was a dissapointing and almost unrealated sequal to Desperado. Once upon a Time in Mexico was more of a seperate movie that tied with the Desperado legend. However this movie did have great action sequences and besides not continuing Desperado directly was a good movie to watch....more info
  • Great Action Film
    This movie just keeps on going and going and going... A great action film with a mythic hero, lots of action, some good acting and brialliant and colourful photography! Lots of fun!...more info
  • High-flying action!!!!!!!!!!
    Yeah, this movie is great! Theres lots of high flying action, shooting, and exploding, which I personally always enjoy. This movie is pretty violent and is not for the faint of heart. Antonio Banderas plays his part to perfection. The only dumb annoying thing was that the guys kept switching from Spanish to English (or vice-versa) in the same conversation. Bottom-line is, i f you're looking for a violent, action packed movie to rent, this is the one....more info
  • Why Can't They Just create a realistic hero?
    Let's not say that this movie is a sequel to the mighty "Desperado" and face it as an Individual, new movie. well, it's better that way cause this movie can not be in any way compared with the original! As only an action movie, It wasn't that bad but...

    1. They've shown mexico as an extremely primitive country, just like one of central or south american tiny republics. everyone knows Mexico although is not a modern country, but it's not that primitive too. they always show Desolated primitive northern states as entire mexico. it's an insult to mexican people! Is U.s. Arizona, New Mexico or parts of Texas better than mexican northern provinces? I guess not! Mexico City is a city with more than 10 million population! and It's a modern city! It's not right to show our neighbours primitive on purpose!

    2. What's this Mariachi? Superman? Spiderman? Batman? I guess he soppose to be more real than a comic hero. most of his efforts could be end up unright! a person can be lucky and survive one time, possitively, two times! but not each time. I don't know why can't they just get rid of that "Comicism (I made this term myself!)" in their mind and create a realistic hero that children and youth can try to be like him with some effort and doing some sports! the mariachi I saw here, was a Superhuman!

    Anyway, this is a good action movie for one night. at least it makes you less nervous than some similar movies! it has a good and reasonable story, great visuals and great actings. oh, buy the way, let's have a word about blind Jhonny Depp in this movie too! He sopposed to be blind. a Sudden Untrained blind. so how could he accomodate himself with new condition and became a "Laegendary like" warrior in less than an hour? and what was he looking at with no eyes? If he tried to act like a real blind man, it was a fair try!...more info
  • What a fun movie! Over-The-Top action with humor!
    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 up (forcefully) with El Mariachi (played by Antonio Bandares). El Mariachi is a nickname, a legend, and supposedly a dead man. Sands makes a deal with El to kill Marquez, while Sands decides to kill the cook in a tiny Mexican dive because he cooks his pork dish too well - Sands has to restore balance to the country, you see. But Sands has done well with his choice of El, because it was Marquez who killed El's wife and daughter, and almost killed him.

    Cartel boss Barillo is played by Willem DaFoe, and his sleazy sidekick Billy is played by Mickey Rourke. They also are involved in the plan to assassinate the President of Mexico. Sands goes after retired FBI Agent Jorge to take out Billy and Barillo. Does it sound complicated yet? Yes, it is - and no, it isn't. Basically, there's a plot to overthrow the government and everyone is involved. 'Once Upon A Time in Mexico' is the sequel to 'Desperato', but can be watched separately and stand on it's own. It's actually much better than 'Desperato', with a lot more cheap action added. (As a note, the scene with El Mariachi and Carolina (Salma Hayek) going out the window of a five story building chained together was shot with the actual actors and NOT stunt doubles)

    The pace is fast, furious, and fun, with lots of gunfights and bloodshed and over-the-top action. Combined with a great cast, it gives this little adventure enough 'Ummph' to make it past mediocre into lively and well-done entertainment. 'Once Upon A Time in Mexico' is pure amusement; it has no other redeeming value. No deep messages and no artistic awe. It's definitely a popcorn movie, a movie to gawk at and laugh and squeal with anticipation. Go ahead, have some fun and watch 'Once Upon A Time In Mexico'. Enjoy!
    ...more info
  • Muy Muy Terrible
    I was a big fan of EL MARIACHI. Its great heart, style, and low budget impressed me. After reading more about its director, Robert Rodriguez, I couldn't wait to see what else this talented guy had to offer.

    I cut Rodriguez a lot of slack for his sophomore effort, the made-for-Showtime movie, ROAD RACERS. However, I was severely let down by Rodriguez's follow-up to EL MARIACHI, DEPSERADO. The film had two things working against it. First off, Colombia wouldn't allow for the original Mariachi, Carlos Gallardo, to star. They felt it too "risky" having a relative unknown in a starring role and while having another actor step in for a sequel isn't unheard of (call it "The George Lazenby Syndrome"), it was more than a little odd to have Gallardo show up in the film as another character while Antonio Banderas took over the lead. This brings us to the film's second flaw. Rodriguez, a huge fan of Sam Raimi, decided that his sequel would not be a follow-up but a re-imagining of the first film just as EVIL DEAD II was of THE EVIL DEAD (would Ash really go back to that cabin?). However, I never bought this excuse for the inconsistencies between EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO, feeling rather cheated by this film.

    Despite my disappointment, I was excited to see how Rodriguez would handle the direction of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, having been a fan of the Quentin Tarantino script. The direction was fine with Rodriguez managing to cull the only good performance Tarantino has ever given on screen. The failing of this film came in the editing. Rather than being the finely-tuned cuts made by Kaye Davis in EVIL DEAD II, Rodriguez employed a method he aptly called "chopping." Indeed, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN felt like the raw footage was hacked apart and thrown back together.

    Thus, it took quite a while for me to brave ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO; third in the dubious and loosely knit "Mariachi Trilogy." Even from the previews I knew that I'd be pissed as I saw Danny Trejo in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, knowing that his character, Navajas, died in DESPERADO and that he'd be back playing another character (Cucuy). Here Rodriguez went beyond the EVIL DEAD question giving a nod to Sergio Leone. More than just naming the film ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXCO, Rodriguez's employment of an actor playing two different characters in a series of films recalls Lee Van Cleef as Douglas Mortimer in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and Angel Eyes / Sentenza in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Yet, while Leone's Eastwood films are often called "The Dollars Trilogy," each film has as much to do with one another as HALLOWEEN II and HALLOWEEN III. Rather than succeeding like Leone, Rodriguez fails like George Miller--Trejo's appearance and Badereas' inability to recognize him recalls Bruce Spence's reappearance in MAD MAX: BEYOND THUMBERDOME. Spence's "Jedediah the Pilot" in BEYOND THUNDERDOME may have logged some hours in a plane but he didn't seem to be the same "Gyro Captain" from THE ROAD WARRIOR.

    Calling the film ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO is a bit of a misnomer. If one were to compare Rodriguez's work to anything that Leone did, it would be GUI LA TESTA (AKA A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE or DUCK YOU SUCKER) with its Mexican coup theme. Likewise, while Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST has four main characters, the spotlight of ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO falls mostly on Johnny Depp's Sands, a CIA operative, with Antonio Banderas relegated to a minor, enigmatic role. In fact, Banderas is overshadowed by nearly everyone in the cast from Mickey Rourke to Rubin Blades. Even Enrique Inglesias appears to have a larger part and, undoubtedly, more personality.

    When it comes to the fleeting glimpses of Baderas' Mariachi, Rodriguez focuses on the happy days between Mariachi and his romantic interest, Carolina (Salma Hayek), ended in tragedy. While this is better than having her mysteriously disappear between films (such as Bonny Bedelia's Holly McClane in the DIE HARD films) or die in the opening credits (like Carrie Henn's Newt in the ALIEN films), it's still incredibly cheesy. In short, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO suffers from just about everything that could make a sequel bad. ...more info
  • growing on me
    I've had to rethink this film. I don't think it's as good as Desperado primarily because el mariachi is overshadowed by the convoluted plot. Nevertheless, the style and cinematography is pleasing. Depp as the sociopathic CIA agent steals a few scenes but doesn't quite steal the show (much like Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone). Rodriguez could have probably made a dark, comedic film just on Sands. Overall, the mariachi series is a fun trilogy and Rodriguez is an extraordinarily talented filmmaker....more info
  • More like 2 1/2 stars
    Loaded with bloody action and loads of explosions, the third film in Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi trilogy is an unnecessary, but somewhat fun, sequel. Antonio Banderas returns in the role that made him famous with Desperado, but his character and performance is outshined by the always fantastic Johnny Depp as the mysterious CIA Agent Sands who recruits the Mariachi for his own purposes. Salma Hayek's role is nothing more than a cameo in the beginning flashback of the film, and the colorful cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Rueben Blades, Danny Trejo, and Eva Mendes; most of whom go greatly underused. Once Upon a Time in Mexico is nowhere as great as either El Mariachi or Desperado, and the film would probably be a clunker were it not for Rodriguez' well crafted action scenes and Depp's film stealing performance. All in all, this is worth checking out for fans of Depp or fans of the Mariachi, just don't expect much from it....more info
  • One of my TOP 10 favorite movies: Sheldon Jeffrey Sands is the man !
    You might detect a bit of Jack Sparrows, for a moment, in Sheldon Jeffrey Sands. I love this movie. The trailers enticed me with Salma Hayek, and I had loved Desperado (Special Edition). Therefore I caught this on the big screen, then rented it...then I knew I had to purchase the film.

    Oddly, I rooted for Antonio Banderas all throughout El Mariachi (Special Edition), Desperado (Special Edition), and the beginning of Once Upon a Time in Mexico...then along came Sheldon Jeffrey Sands.

    Although I must fault Sheldon Jeffrey Sands for allowing his ego to overwhelm his good judgment, and his nether regions to overrule his brainpan, he is the man. A bit too smug, his Ego sometimes screws up his plans. Yet I am hoping for a comeback.

    If they want us to root for "the good guy," they can't make "the bad guy" so damned cool. You just have to see the movie, and watch how SJS sets things up to watch them fall. You can purchase the trilogy: Robert Rodriguez Mexico Trilogy (El Mariachi / Desperado / Once Upon A Time In Mexico). I am hoping for a part four....more info
  • Good Solid Work
    For some reason, as the money came in, the quality decreased with Robert Rodriguez's Mexico Trilogy (Robert Rodriguez Mexico Trilogy (El Mariachi / Desperado / Once Upon A Time In Mexico)). The first is still the best. The second one is pretty good too. But this one is missing something. Something that made the first two such a novelty.

    The strong cast does everything in their power to carry this movie, especially the new addition Johnny Depp. It's got an interesting premise, but the execution seems to be the problem. It's still quite fun to watch.

    This DVD features a commentary with Robert Rodriguez, deleted scenes, a few featurettes detailing the picture's production, and a 10 minute film school with Rodriguez.

    Recommended....more info
  • The Sequel to "Desperado"
    This sequel to Desperado is absolutely great. Antonio Banderas plays the outstanding role of a man with great respect for life and love, yet troubled by memories and a thirst for vengance that curdles within his soul. There are several extraordinary twists with pretty boy Enrique Iglesias and nonchalant Johnny Depp, but this is definitely a great action/drama film. Once you watch it, you'll want to buy it. And if you do buy it, get the Superbit Edition DVD....more info
  • It is what it is...
    If you didn't like any of the Mariachi films, don't waste your time. Don't expect things to particularly make sense. But, if for some unknown reason you are like me and love the Mariachi series, this one is a must. You just have to accept it for what it is, even if you can't really define it into a convenient pigeon-hole. I wish I could not like Johnny Depp and Antonio Banderas, but unfortunately they are just too good to not like.
    I hated Antonio Banderas just because he was so pretty...but when I actually saw some of his work I realized he is a great comedic actor. Nobody can do the deadpan line like Banderas (4 Rooms, even the 13th Warrior). The guy is dreadfully under-rated....more info
  • A great cast but a mediocre movie
    This movie was a bit of a let down for me. I got all the mariachi movies at once and watched them in order. I liked the first two a lot and figured that the third would also be good. *sigh* Apparently I figured wrong. This movie was ok, but: Salma Hayek wasn't in it enough, the action scenes weren't really that great, and the plot was way more complex than it needed to be. If you want to watch one of the mariachi movies go with Desperado, not this one....more info
  • Johnnie Depp is the Man!!!
    Review disclaimer:
    Please note: This movie was reviewed on my PSP, not the DVD. Also, not sure why Amazone has a "fun factor" for this "movie" not game? Confusing!

    As said in an earlier review, Johnnie literally steals the scene, every scene he is in. The whole "eye-hole" with a patch, whoa, blew my mind!

    I loved this movie! You will too! Why not rent or purchase from this website? Today!

    MC White said: Check it out!!!...more info
  • Judged on it's own merits...not that bad
    It's hard not to see this as a let down following Desperado and given the additions of some big names, most notably Johnny Depp. However, judged as simply another high action low everything else movie, it isn't that bad. There's lots of explosions, shoot-em up scenes, and some over-the-top squeamishness, but there is enough left-over cool factor from the previous two to make it enjoyable enough. Depp steals the show and in hindsight, I wonder if this was a vehicle made more for him than Banderas, Hayek, or anyone else. His character is compelling to watch as he quirks his way through the convoluted plot and brings a bludgeoningly sardonic element to the otherwise largely two dimensional characters. Hayek is barely present, Mickey Rourke is bland, and Willem Dafoe was simply a bad choice. He does an almost black-face as a Mexican, the make-up so horridly obvious on his fair features. I find it impossible to believe that there were no Latino actors who could've brought equal marquee stature and shored up the woeful lack of credibility brought by Dafoe. Still, Eva Mendes is a nice evil touch and the heart of the movie may just belong to Ruben Blades as the retired FBI agent out to do the right thing.
    Once again, as in Desperado, there is a boy who plays a small but important role in the movie and adds some humanity to the popcorn carnage.
    Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a fair part of the trilogy and while it pales in comparison to it's predecessors, standing on its own, it is adequate enough for a good viewing. ...more info
  • Fun, loud and a 'guy flick' that I loved.
    In 2003 my husband wanted to see this movie on our anniversary, so I said 'ok'. It is very much a guy flick, so if you dislike loudness, lots of drinking, women and guns blaring this is a movie you will not like. It is part of a series or trilogy with El Mariachi and Desperado being the first two.

    The reason I loved the movie is because it is a tad campy as well as full on non stop action, which I admit can be a tad emotionally draining, so be well rested.

    Besides Johnny Depp who gives a wonderful preformance full of wit, sarcasm, passion and anger, there are Antonio Banderas, and Salma Hayek, who do their characters proud. Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, and Ruben Blades are added treats.

    Other reviewers have gone into much detail and far better than I, about the ploy etc. For me the movie was simply a fun, albeit extremely loud, treat where I learned that a guitar isn't always just a guitar.

    Alas it was the last film my husband and I saw together. He died a few months later, and I am so glad I said 'yes' to this movie, when I really wanted to say 'no'....more info
  • Eye catching
    The third in Rob Rodrigeuz's "El Mariachi" trilogy, this chapter involves a crew of colorful characters that range from a shady CIA agent to Cheech Plissken. Pretty unrealistic but remains entertaining for most of it's running length. There is little story but the crazily stylized action scenes and high body count morn than maky up for it. Depp steals every scene he is....more info
  • Am I missing something?
    This was a mess of a movie! The story was wishy washy and the plot was dull. The action was what makes this movie worth watching. Some downright chezzy action scenes make for a good laugh. If I had to recommend one Robert Rodriguez flick I would rate From Dusk Till Dawn much better. ...more info
  • uhh
    The worst Depp movie I have ever seen. I have to admit, I fell asleep about midway through the film for about twenty minutes and didn't bother rewind it when I woke up. I'm just glad I bought this used and can return it. ...more info
  • Brain candy.
    Once Upon a Time in Mexico (Robert Rodriguez, 2003)

    Man, I hate it when this happens. I watch a movie, then think about it, then think about it, then think about it some more, and still can't figure out what to say about it. This is the third movie in Robert Rodriguez' cycle about El Mariachi, the hit man forced into the profession who finds he has a taste for it. Antonio Banderas plays the lead again this time, along with a cast of usual suspects. Like the transition between El Mariachi and Desperado (about which fans still argue the remake-sequel question), Rodriguez pulls back in a number of characters from Desperado and has them play different roles (notably Cheech Marin). This one's more obviously a sequel to Desperado than Desperado was to El Mariachi, but there's still a question.

    In this one, El Mariachi is hired by a rogue CIA agent named Sands (Johnny Depp) to throw a monkeywrench into a plot to kill the President (Pedro Armendariz, Jr., recently in Casa de los Babys and El Crimen del Padre Amaro); Sands wants the assassination to go off as planned, but wants El Mariachi to kill the assassin after the act. The assassin is General Marquez (Gerardo Vigil), with whom El Mariachi has a long and nasty history. Throw in a spunky, discriminated-against member of the Mexican version of the ATF (Eva Mendes, who finally gets a chance to show she can act), a retired FBI agent Sands brings into play (Ruben Blades), a corrupt drug lord (Willem Dafoe) and his henchman (Mickey Rourke, with a completely unrecognizable deep southern drawl), and a guy playing every side in the game (Danny Trejo), and what you have is an undeniable mess.

    Desperado was a mess, too, and it worked gloriously in spite (or because of) its lack of plot or coherence. Things blew up, Salma Hayek was hot, blood flew everywhere, that was pretty much all anyone cared about. Now, almost ten years later, we have Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which seems to be attempting to make up for its predecessor's shortcomings. The problem with this is that no one cared about its predecessor's shortcomings. Blood still flies, and Salma Hayek still looks hot. But there's a plot. In fact, there's too much of a plot. All the twists and turns in here could have easily filled a three-hour film with no room to spare, but Rodriguez crams everything into just over half that. We spend too much of the time just wondering what's going on, rather than spending the time trying to figure out who's double-dealing whom. But with that aside, Johnny Depp is still a fabulous actor to watch, and delivers his material here with a deadpan that does Bogart proud. Willem Dafoe is one of Hollywood's unrecognized geniuses, and I doubt he's had this much fun with any other role in his career, except maybe Boondock Saints. Danny Trejo is always a pleasure to watch. Eva Mendes really CAN act. And I had to rewatch the scenes with Mickey Rourke three times before I got my mind around the fact that that voice was coming out of the raspy, squeaky guy from Angel Heart. And he no longer looks exactly like Bruce Willis, either.

    Basically, watch it for the same reasons you watched Desperado. The blood flies (though there's not as much of it this go-round), lots of things blow up, the women are drop-dead gorgeous and like beating guys up, and the plot is, well, existent but incoherent. Sit back, turn your brain off, dig into the popcorn, and enjoy the ride. ***...more info

  • Not a masterpiece, but worthwhile
    I thought this movie was hilarious...whether it was supposed to be or not. I liked it for the most part. However...I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp and expected more from one of his performances....more info
  • Johnny Depp always steals the show and that always a good thing.
    This story maybe about El Mariachi but Agent Sands is someone you'll like more he's crazy,funny,and deadly now that is a cool anti-hero. I hear in the commentery in this movie and Robert rodrigez said that he had an idea to make a Once upon a time in mexico 2&3 and it would be two trilogies in 5 movies counting El Mariachi And Desperado. And that the new hero would be Agent Sands and that to me sound like a pretty neat idea. if you think that this is a good idea write it in your reviews so I can find out....more info
  • all flash, little substance
    With "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," director Robert Rodriguez returns to his "El Mariachi" roots - but unlike the prodigal son, this particular homecoming provides little cause for celebration. Rodriguez' signature style is visual inventiveness combined with wise guy humor and cartoon violence. The problem is that his films rarely have the depth of content to go along with all that directorial razzmatazz. As a result, they tend to become little more than empty, cold exercises in style - and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" is no exception.

    The film is obviously intended as some sort of satire on the kind of governmental and political corruption that has plagued that North American country since the Spaniards first set foot on Mexican soil. The messy, overcomplicated plot involves a vicious drug cartel's planning to stage a coup d'etat against the current government, and a murderous CIA agent's working behind the scenes pulling the strings of all the parties involved. Just trying to keep all the plotlines and characters straight requires a program and a score card. Antonio Banderas heads an all-star cast that includes Salma Hayek, Mickey Rourke, Enrique Iglesias, Cheech Marin, Willem Dafoe and Ruben Blades, but the only person who gets to do any real ACTING is Johnny Depp as the gringo CIA agent, but even he is reduced to self-mimicry after awhile. Moreover, the tone of the film is so dispassionate, so flip and arch that we find ourselves completely detached from what's taking place on screen.

    "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" is one of those films in which the actors spend most of their time winking at the camera to let us know that they're in on the joke, and the director performs somersaults with his camera to keep reminding us of just how "cool" and "with it" he is. Unfortunately, all style and no substance makes Robert a very dull filmmaker....more info
    An entertaining movie-The best actor award should go to the Actor Johnny Depp .When Antonio Banderas says "SO YOU WANT ME TO SHOOT THE COOK (Antonio Banderas)---(Johnny Depp)No I AM GOING TO SHOOT THE COOK AS MY CAR IS PARKED AT THE BACK ANYWAY.These are some Comic moments and it is quite an entertaining Movie and i suppose thats how the Director Robert Rodriguez the young man wanted to make it.This is third in the series and actions are Fantastic Grip is not there to keep audiance's attention as it was in number -2 DESPERADO I dont think it is fair to compare as both movie's are totally different. -may be because thats how thet are supposed to be.IT IS QUITE AN ENTERTAINING MOVIE.IT IS A COLLECTORS ITEM BEEING THIRD IN THE SERIES AND ALSO BECAUSE THE NAME "DESPERADO"itself ON WHICH THERE ARE ABOUT 10-15 WESTERN MADE.I INJOYED WATCHING IT .THEN AGAIN IT IS MY VIEW and i loved it....more info
  • Johnny's role
    Johnny Depp's role was horrible. There was no point to his character. Everyone knows he could have done better. Or maybe he did it as a favor. All i know is it wasn't necessary....more info
  • TOO Much
    With directors like Robert Rodriguez, money is a bad thing.

    When Rodriguez had little, and made "El Mariachi," he made a great film. He then obtained a lot of money to make a sequel, "Desperado," which was still fun but way overdone in the violence, explosions, sex, etc., and the story lost what little credibility it had. Now comes the third installment which makes the last movie look believable in comparison to this farce. This is REALLY ludicrous.

    This story is so stupid, with violence so overdone that it's past ridiculous. What a shame to waste the acting talents of some fun actors, too, like Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Eva Mendes, Mickey Rourke, etc. However, most of above-mentioned are whacked-out personalities anyway, so maybe they fit perfectly in a film like this. Forget about Selma Hayak: she's given good billing here but all of her scenes are flashbacks.

    For the first hour, I could put up with the stupidity of this story solely because of the wild colors and stylish camera-work, but after an hour, this is just too much.....way too much.
    ...more info
  • Rodriguez trilogy ends with a whimper
    Despite the intrigue, the plot twists, the shootings and explosions, this is ultimately a sad film. Banderas' sorrow for his murdered wife (Hayek) and daughter permeate the film in flashbacks. His involvement in the plot to overthrow the Mexican government is almost something he walks through in a trance. In this way the audience cannot get very involved in the plot (improbable as it is) because the main character is removed from really caring.

    The film certainly delivers in the action genre, although there are too many twists and turns in the plotting that lead nowhere (especially the face reconstruction scenes)to make any real sense of it. Rodriguez in a short documentary on the disc shows us his home where he wrote, scored and edited the film. He also directed and shot it. It certainly is therefore HIS film, not the product of the studio which distributed it.
    The score is digitally created.

    The only person of interest is of course Johnny Depp, who plays a CIA agent. He appears in about two dozen sequences. He sports long hair, a flat American accent, a false third arm, dark glasses and occasionally a removeable moustache. He plays the character as being terrifically bored and since Banderas is playing his character as tremendously sad and depressed, we have two leads who do not generate many sparks.

    One clever plot twist has Depp being set up as a dupe while he himself is setting up a dupe situation. For a moment, things get interesting.

    Enrique Iglesias is rather wasted as one of Banderas' two team mates. He appears in only fifteen sequences and they are primarily action, so there is no opportunity to really create a character.

    To summarize, this is a typical action film, with too much plotting, and not enough audience involvement. The director's pork recipe in the featurette section does manage to redeem the disk.
    ...more info
  • Awful, truly awful
    No plot, no sense, no acting, no nothing. What a let down after El Mariachi and Desperado....more info
  • Wait For The End!!
    Once Upon A Time In Mexico is good, but not as strong as Desperado. Our hero, El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) barely has any lines. Throughout the movie we forget this talented actor is the star of the movie. The explosive action is incredible, and including Sands (Johnny Depp) is the only thing worth raving about. Depp's role is actually the best part of this movie. Salma Hayek's role has been chopped to flashbacks, so there is not alot of crazy Action and Romance between Banderas and her. You want Antonio Banderas to save the day and he does, but this Sequel did not give him that fire. Eva Mendes is in about 4 scenes but does a great job including the rest of the cast (Ruben Blades, Cheech Marin, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, and Enrique Iglesias). It would have been nice to hear some hot new songs from Enrique Iglesias for the soundtrack but I am more than satisfied with Salma Hayek's "Siente Mi Amor". It is an incredible Spanish track, worth watching the entire credits! ...more info