I guess if there really was a story or characters in this movie, the violence might be too disturbing.
But Robert Rodriguez, who not only wrote and directed this movie but also “shot, chopped, and scored” it, too, doesn’t so much omit story and character as transcend them. This is a kinetic and voluptuous pulp fantasia, a mythic nightmare pastiche of stylish slaughter, featuring twisted iconic figures destroying each other and just about everything else in sight with a lot of flair.
It is the third in the series that began with the $7000 “El Mariachi” and continued with the quasi-remake/sequel “Desperado.” Or, it’s more like the 3 1/2, as Rodriguez has said that he wants this to be more like a 4th in the series, with flashbacks to provide just a hint of the episode we missed.
If I had to explain the story, it would be something like this: Everyone shoots everyone else outdoors. Everyone shoots everyone else indoors. Lots more people shoot other people.
But boy oh boy, they sure do it with a lot of style. Imagine an R-rated Roadrunner cartoon with Acme bazookas and flamethrowers, and you’ll get some idea of what’s in store. This is the kind of movie where a rogue CIA agent played by Johnny Depp asks someone, “Are you a Mexi-CAN or a Mexi-CAN’T?,” kills a chef because he made a pork dish too well and therefore threw off the balance of the universe, and wears a t-shirt that says, “I’m with stupid” with the drawing of a hand pointing not sideways but down. This is the kind of movie where a sensationally beautiful woman reveals her magnificent thigh when she reaches back to grab a handful of knives from her garter and then flings them to take down a bunch of bad guys who are aiming their guns at her husband. A $10,000 payoff is presented in a Clash of the Titans lunchbox. Blood splatters on the camera lens. A guitar case contains an arsenal. And lots and lots and lots of stuff gets blown up.
Rodriguez is indisputably a masterful film-maker. He fills the screen with lots to look at and no one is better at creating propulsive energy through striking images, brilliantly edited. Depp, Banderas, and Hayek are all sensational. Pop star Enrique Iglesias makes a very respectable acting debut and Eva Mendes is very fine as an FBI agent who wants more.
This film is worth watching just as an education in how to shoot and edit. Someday, perhaps, Rodriguez will become more of a story-teller. In the meantime, the film is very entertaining for anyone who does not object to the carnage, and a must-see for fans of hard-core action.
Parents should know that the movie has constant extremely graphic and intense violence. It is so over-the-top it is hard to take seriously, but still may be upsetting to some viewers. There are many character deaths, including a mother and her child. One character has his eyes gauged out and one has his knees shot out. There are scenes showing very grisly plastic surgery. Characters use extremely strong language. There is drinking and smoking and references to a drug cartel.
Families who see this movie should talk about its portrayal of violence compared to a more realistic approach in movies like Saving Private Ryan. Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy El Mariachi and Desperado.