I walked into the theater where ?The Mexican? was playing atypically on time and realized that the film had already begun. It was an empty theater, a rare occasion on an opening night.

Inhale ? at the least this will be a successful romantic comedy, I convinced myself.

I was wrong. Director Gore Verbinski of ?Mouse Hunt? attempted an action comedy and only managed to weave two separate story lines that ended in a sojourn to the banalities of bad movie-making.

The story

Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts? first combined effort attempts to join their history of romantic comedy films in two painfully unsuccessful characters, Jerry and Samantha.

The hybrid of Pitt?s rough-edged action sentiment mixed with the essence of Roberts? eccentric female characters who have a gnawing propensity to exhibit immensely different notions of love than their partners, is unconvincing.

The characters

Samantha and Jerry are most believable during their first argument that quickly creates a wonderful exposition.

They are perhaps precisely that which we most fear ? a couple that remains together for fear of being alone.

The chemistry between these two established actors is obvious, and likely could have been maintained throughout the film ? if only they were afforded the opportunity to be together.

Jerry, the painfully inept puppet for the mob, is sent on his last mission to retrieve a gun that is more important than life itself, and becomes the source of tension in his relationship with Sam.

Samantha?s tale entertains us. She appears at first to be a woman who is completely aware of her desires and is willing to make it her every intention to pursue her life goals, regardless of their connection to Jerry?s entrapment.

However, she quickly emerges as a horrific nightmare of a female.

She is an icon of what it is to be a conflicted woman ? alone, hungry for the affection of others, but always performing and alive.

Still, she is always enchanting ? even in moments of impassioned rage.

Viewers are supposed to receive Sam as a woman who knows exactly what she wants but does not take it.

Soon Samantha is taken hostage by Leroy who is ?protecting? her while Jerry is traveling through Mexico in pursuit of the legendary gun, ?The Mexican,? which carries with it various tales of tragic love. The gun is easy to find ? but, similar to love ? very difficult to hold on to.

Leroy is played by actor James Gandolfini from ?The Sopranos.? Gandolfini shows his true colors in this film, quickly taking center stage as a fascinating character.

Gandolfini is the true star of the movie, and lights up the screen. ?The Mexican? is strengthened by his presence.

The hard-core hitman?s shell dissolves in Sam?s prodding psychoanalytic babble.

We learn that Leroy is, in fact, a sentimental gay man ? possibly due to the spell of the romantic weapon ?the Mexican.?

Leroy is both convincing and endearing ? a sort of dream of American individuality ? the sensitive yet appropriately tough capitalist.

The mystery

The legend of ?the Mexican? focuses on a moment of tragic accidental death, and is retold to Jerry in various fashions.

The tale, and the icon of the gun, carry archetypal notions of romantic love and tragedy.

Disturbingly enough, the gun features a serpent and an apple, as well as a woman who is embraced by her lover. A bit too close to Genesis and the fall of man for comfort?

This becomes one of the many moments in which iconic imagery is used to create a sense of empathy and participation for viewers.

Jerry is somehow curiously unable to see the shades of representation and the importance of the tale to individual notions of love, and thus fumbles not only through the retrieval of the pistol, but also through his own love life.

Therefore, on many levels, ?The Mexican? becomes an almost campish metaphor for love?s anguish and sacrifice.

Behind the legend

The flashbacks that various narrators tell to Jerry concerning the gun are filmed in a graining aesthetic that endeavors to establish a connection for viewers, with the gun both as a physical entity and as a metaphoric, almost a live embodiment of love.

These flashback sequences are supposed to be so aesthetically different from the other scenes so as to maintain a dominance throughout the film ? one that beats over the head for viewers the belief in the omnipresence and beauty of love.

In contrast to the intent of these scenes, they insidiously impress upon viewers the ambiguity of this gun, and it is a vehicle through which human greed is explored.

The last ?enchanting? flashback establishes the romantic, and anticipated conclusion.

Laden with iconography that is neither fulfilling nor intelligently concluded and actors who rarely reach their full potential, ?The Mexican? is a disappointing film that neither provides satisfying action nor convincing romance for viewers.



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