Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) -- and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) -- to take action.
With this sequel to his prize-winning independent previous film, "El Mariachi," director Robert Rodriquez joins the ranks of Sam Peckinpah and John Woo as a master of slick, glamorized ultra-violence. We pick up the story as a continuation of "El Mariachi," where an itinerant musician, looking for work, gets mistaken for a hitman and thereby entangled in a web of love, corruption, and death. This time, he is out to avenge the murder of his lover and the maiming of his fretting hand, which occurred at the end of the earlier movie. However, the plot is recapitulated, and again, a case of mistaken identity leads to a very high body count, involvement with a beautiful woman who works for the local drug lord, and finally, the inevitable face-to-face confrontation and bloody showdown. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Give me the strength to be what I was, and forgive me for what I am.
Sinking us back into the gritty life of a tormented guitar player, Rodriguez sets the stage for an amazing film. This time, Antonio Banderas steps into the role of the troubled Mariachi as he continues his quest to rid Mexico of the corrupted drug lord that destroyed his life. Using friends like Steve Buscemi, he finds the town that is harboring his villain named Bucho. The Mariachi's form of questioning normally leads to several dead, a cinematic gun fight, and some classic Sergio Leone verbiage. Unfortunately, our hero does not escape unscathed and finds himself being healed by the likes of Carolina, a bookstore beauty played by Selma Hayek. Together they build a steamy relationship that will help our Mariachi reach his final destination.
As more gunfights, explosions, and blood rock this independent blockbuster, we soon discover a hidden secret about our hero, one that could change the course of his destination.
This was an impressive second outing by director Robert Rodriguez. While I was worried that Hollywood would have drained too much of his imagination, it was instead the direct opposite. Hollywood gave him the tools to build an amazing 'sequel'. While different, yet the similar to his independent feature 'El Mariachi', Rodriguez sets the stage for a roller coaster film that makes you hold your breath and pray for more. He has taken elements from his first film and expanded them to new levels. Banderas is perfect as our 'new' Mariachi and the chemistry between him and Selma Hayek cannot be contested. Banderas' ability to control this enraged man was spectacular. They worked as our two main focuses of this film. Coupled with some humorous moments with Steve Buscemi and Quentin Tarantino, this film successfully stood on its own two feet thanks not just to the action, but the actors in their respective roles.
Finally, Rodriguez is a genius behind the camera. He is able to give us exactly the right amount of action, drama, and comedy for our liking. He is the proverbial salad bar of cinema. While giving us this deeply rooted character hell-bent on destroying this drug lord, he also lets our imaginations wander with his comical and cartoonish action sequences. The scenes of men flying through the air after being shot are somewhat comical, yet completely Rodriguez. He has successfully created this world that is all uniquely his own. Rodriguez has done this by giving the world depth and outside characters. He builds suspense and also suspicion all at the same time.
Overall, an amazing film (in case you haven't noticed) that should be found in nearly everyone's film collection.
Grade: ***** out of *****
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