Review by Alex Haberstroh
Stars: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, J.K
Director: Gore Verbinski
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS
Video: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Features: See Review
Length: 123 minutes
Release Date: August 7, 2001
I need a lift in your el truck-o to the next town-o.
I have a great idea for a film! Well take two of Hollywoods hottest stars: one, right off the Tarantino-esqe hit Snatch, and the other, one of Americas most beloved (and overrated) actresses, practically guaranteed to win an Oscar for her role in Erin Brockovich, and put them together! Oh, how the dollars will flow! Not only will people love the fact that these two incredibly sexy stars will be paired together in a quirky romantic comedy, but well also make it a frenetically paced crime comedy/drama, even throwing in Tony Soprano himself as a gay hitman (insert crude joke here) to mix it up! The film will be edgy yet cute, stylish and yet down to earth, but most importantly, a cash cow. This was probably somewhat along the lines of what producers were thinking when they contemplated making The Mexican.
The plot of The Mexican is an interesting one, at least on paper. Jerry (Pitt), who had five years ago been forced into the employ of a powerful crime boss due to a simple mistake, is finishing up his last job. Hopeful to spend the rest of his life with Samantha (Roberts), his outspoken girlfriend, he arrives at his job to say goodbye. Unfortunately for Jerry, his last job didnt go so well, meaning he must perform one more job: recovering a legendary Mexican pistol from over the border.
Samantha, irate at the idea, and thinking Jerry is choosing his work over living in Las Vegas with her, breaks up with him and goes on by herself. Jerry, somewhat dejected, but realizing he must get the job done, proceeds for the border. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to want the pistol just as much as Jerrys bosses, and are anxious to see Jerry part with it. His bosses, thinking Jerrys trying to steal the pistol out from under them, send a hit man named Leroy (Gandolfini) to hold Samantha hostage.
Yet despite what sounded like an interesting plot with a high caliber cast, the movie was only a modest success at the box office. So why isnt the film on everyones top ten list? For one, the movie feels completely forced. The scenes that occur in this romantic comedy between Roberts and Gandolfini are often unrealistic and feel scripted. As well, its often hard to have a successful romantic comedy when the romantic leads spend most of the movie apart from each other (less than ten minutes together out of over two hours).
Second, the performances here are far below expectations. While I expect Roberts to play the same character she does in every movie, I was anticipating much more out of Pitt and Gandolfini. Sadly, it seems that the two of them either needed more interesting characters, or better direction. Pitts acting, while funny at times, is nowhere near the scope of his performances in Fight Club or Snatch. Gandolifini as well does an unimaginative job in his role as a gay version of the Tony Soprano character, even using the characters North Jersey accent (I sure hope that he has more range than that single persona or hell be the next David Caruso).
In closing, the way this cluttered film turns out, it would have almost been better to have two separate tales: one, concerning Roberts and Gandolfinis characters, and the relationship that forms between them, and the other, concerning Brad Pitts character and his hunt for the legendary Mexican pistol. Sadly, when the two ideas are smacked together the movie just doesnt gel (and goes on WAY too long), resulting in the feeling that the screenwriters were trying to go in too many different directions at once.
As expected, no matter what the film is, DreamWorks is sure to deliver. This is a beautifully done transfer worthy of praise. Colors are bright and shining, with blacks that are deep and rich. Some of the scenes contain a faded washed out look similar to some of those in Three Kings, particularly some of those shot in Mexico, but the transfer handles these scenes easily as well.
Contained on the disc is both a DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 track. While I prefer the DTS track, both are highly engaging tracks with plenty of effects. Dialogue is crisp and mostly comes from the center channel, although there are some great moments of directionality. All in all, sound is handled well through this surprisingly lively track, and there are plenty of moments where music and other sound cues dance about the room.
Included first on the disc is a commentary with Director Gore Verbinski as well as the screenwriter and editor for the film. All in all, the commentary wasnt terrifically impressive, as the people involved dont seem too interested in what theyre watching. Next on the disc was HBOs The Making of the Mexican. Knowing that HBO produced this featurette I groaned, as they are known for not producing anything but puff pieces that are like commercials for the film, making them worthless for a DVD. Sadly this is the case, as the featurette consists of everyone basically saying oh I just LOVE working with so and so.
After that are eight deleted scenes with a director commentary. Overall this was probably the most engrossing part of the disc, as the scenes help to flesh out the characters and their motivations.
Finally rounding out the disc are the typical cast and crew filmographies, as well as a theatrical and teaser trailer.
While the film often suffers from not knowing what genre its supposed to fit into, DreamWorks has still provided a nearly flawless transfer with adequate supplements. Now if only they had done such a commendable job making sure this film was better.