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MEXICAN, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt) is a none-too successful crook in the employ of a nasty piece of work called Bernie Nayman (Bob Balaban), who sends Jerry on a mission to Mexico to bring back a priceless, legendary pistol. Behind and above Nayman is the imprisoned famous heavy, Margolese (Gene Hackman). But Jerry’s girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts) has a different mission for him: Las Vegas. With her. Leroy’s deadly ultimatum is more compelling, so Jerry sets off in the hope of getting the job done quickly so he can come back to Sam and take her to Vegas. But there are other people after the pistol and Sam is an ideal pressure point; that’s where Leroy (James Gandolfini) comes in, becoming her kidnapper and councillor all in one. Meanwhile Jerry gets himself into more trouble than a bleeding chook in a crocodile swamp. And that’s before Sam shows up.

"The Mexican is an entertaining piece of baloney that has more star power than the script deserves and more plot holes than the road from Tijuana. It also serves up some romanticised magic, post-modern relationship exploration, and tries to weld its story of Hepburn & Tracey-like conflicted lovers onto the underworld drama that drives the action. Maybe the rustic Mexican settings were meant to give the film some sort of atmosphere, but they don’t. The slapdash mix of moods and styles robs the film of its assets. The swashbuckling gets vicious, the romance gets wordy, the plot gets loopy and the flashback legend device looks out of place. The film is neither serious nor jokey: it’s both. And the juxtapositioning of all these elements is sometimes tasteless. Gandolfini is great talent, but he is made slightly ridiculous here – albeit amusingly. Nevertheless, the star power does help, and the occasional well planned scene pays off. Just don’t expect more than a handful of dust."
Andrew L. Urban

"Funny in an offbeat way, The Mexican is a lively misadventure involving a gun with a curse, bickering lovers and a kidnapper with gay tendencies. Stylised with a potent mix of quirky humour and gangster antics, this romp is set on a colourful Mexican canvass with two of Hollywood's most bankable stars. Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts give entertaining performances, but at times I wondered if they were in the same movie. Pitt seems more at home than Roberts and his Jerry is delightfully all thumbs when it comes to guns. It's a shame there's virtually no screen chemistry in their scenes together, but nonetheless, they are irresistible to watch. Pitt will have the female hearts fluttering, and there are plenty of close ups of those gorgeous baby blues. Roberts has some good moments: the opening sequence when she throws her lover's suitcase down from the balcony two storeys up and engages in a public domestic is a hoot. The Mexican desert vistas are spectacular, the production design fabulous and that soundtrack will keep the toes tapping. Perhaps the best part of The Mexican are the characters we meet – they are all as authentic as the Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila and Corona that is part of their lives. It's a fun caper with plenty of mood and atmosphere, despite the fact it's too long and the script kinda loses the plot. The flashback legend-in-the-making scenes work fine, but scenes like the one where Sam, her kidnapper Leroy and his lover are dancing gaily around in the motel room, is a little far fetched for even the most forgiving of audiences. But the performances are great, and if you are in a not too demanding mood, you may buy it all. After all, there's Mehico, Brad and Julia – and that's an exotic feast in itself!"
Louise Keller

"With Julia Roberts' embarrassing Oscar-acceptance speech still fresh in our minds it might take some encouragement to risk another encounter with the actress who proved that Sally Field and Gwyneth Paltrow's gushings were mere warm-ups for her big moment. She may have been wobbly with the statuette but if there's one thing Roberts knows, it's how to be a film star. She and Brad Pitt show how its done in this caper that overcomes a bumpy start and turns into a thoroughly enjoyable piece of nonsense. It's refreshing to see a big budget, star-driven vehicle acknowledge its plot as a lot of old hokum and the best course of action is to have fun with it. Once we've seen Roberts throw Pitt's clothes out on the street with the words 'if you get on that plane you'll never see me again' The Mexican happily splits its expensive star duo up and doesn't reunite them until the film's final act. The ploy works well as Pitt heads to Mexico and one nightmare after another attempting to retrieve the pistol and Roberts encounters hitman with a difference James Gandolfini. Their dialogue starts off on a bright note when Roberts asks Gandolfini if he's going to kill her - "that depends on too many variables to answer right now" he replies. It gets better after she says 'you're a very sensitive person for a cold-blooded killer' before figuring out just why he's so sensitive. Roberts plays the fag hag-type with relish and Sopranos star Gandolfini gives us one of the best oddball hitmen we've seen in a while. Their heart to heart conversations about love and commitment are written and delivered with a warmth that makes their offbeat relationship funny and endearing. While they're keeping us amused on the road to Vegas (where the psycho-babbling Roberts sees a better future) there's plenty of entertainment south of the border, particularly a very funny runing gag about a curse associated with The Mexican that is revealed in sepia flashbacks and, Rashomon-like, from different teller's perspectives. Like almost every big picture these days The Mexican is a tad overlong but it doesn't spoil the overall effect too much because it has the will and skill to take diversions from the path we expect it to travel and come up trumps most of the time."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

THE MEXICAN (M)
(US)

CAST: Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Gene Hackman, David Krumholtz

DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski

PRODUCER: John Baldecchi, Lawrence Bender

SCRIPT: J.H. Wyman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski

EDITOR: Craig Wood

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cecilia Montiel

RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

VIDEO RELEASE: October 17, 2001 (Rental)

VIDEO RELEASE: March 6, 2002 :(Sell-Thru)







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