Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Important Issues to Consider
Violence in the media—how does it affect families? Answer
Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Answer
Entertainment Media—does it lead or follow society? Answer
Why is there a disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of America? Answer
What is being done to change the values of Hollywood? Answer
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Ruben Blades | Directed by: Robert Rodriguez | Produced by: Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan, Carlos Gallardo | Written by: Robert Rodriguez | Distributor: Columbia Pictures
In deciding what to lay on your heart and mind before bedtime, here is a “Once Upon a Time” story that you may want to forego before you and your family drift off for a peaceful night’s sleep. While holding some redemptive value, the glut of violence is enough to detract a viewer away from getting much meat off of its bones.
Director/Writer Robert Rodriguez has composed a symphony of gun shots, bloodshed and profanity with “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, his third of a trilogy beginning with the $10,000 budget film “El Mariachi” and the blockbuster-funded sequel “Desperado”, and adding to his star-studded cast Antonio Banderas, Selma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo and Enrique Iglesias.
The hook of the film comes when El Mariachi (Banderas), or “El” as he is humorously referred to, is commissioned to break his vow, pick up guns again and fight. The mission he chooses to accept is exterminate the leader of the drug cartel, preventing a hostile take-over for leadership of Mexico and subsequently avenge the death of his wife and child.
In Pulp Fictionesque fashion, there are some disturbing moments when violence is excessively employed for entertainment and even humor. CIA agent Sands (Depp), in one scene raves about a meal he is having and tells his informant, Belini (Marin), that when he’s done eating he’s going to go back to the kitchen and shoot the cook. Unfortunately, he does. The initial joke is meant to be funny, but what’s even more unfortunate is that the shooting is, too.
Rodriguez has greatly advanced since his original feature “El Mariachi” and has fleshed out a production with a well-developed script, rich production design, classy cinematography, extravagant action, excellent locations, and has still managed to preserve some avant-garde flavor. The film also shows the evils of the drug world and bad guys being brought to justice. We know that vengeance belongs to the Lord; He will repay. You might say there is some divine justice in this story, but El Mariachi and Cucuy (Trejo) are characters clearly motivated by revenge. Even until the end, violence is center stage, and—at least at the screening I attended—the audience rejoiced when the bad guys has his kneecaps blown apart.
Violence: Heavy | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Minor