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The Mexican

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Love with the safety off.

Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt), a reluctant bagman who has been given two ultimata. The first is from his mob boss to travel to Mexico to retrieve a priceless antique pistol known as "The Mexican"... or to suffer the consequences. The second is from his girlfriend, Samantha Barzel (Julia Roberts), to end his association with the mob. Jerry figures alive and in trouble with Samantha is better than the more permanent alternative, so he heads south of the border.

Finding the pistol proves easy. Getting it home is another matter. The pistol supposedly carries a legendary curse - a legend Jerry is given every reason to believe, especially when Samantha is taken hostage by Leroy (James Gandolfini), a hit-man, to ensure the safe return of the pistol.

Persons of interest

  • Brad Pitt .... Jerry Welbach
  • Julia Roberts .... Samantha Barzel
  • James Gandolfini .... Winston Baldry
  • JK Simmons .... Ted Slocum
  • Bob Balaban .... Bernie Nayman
  • Sherman Augustus .... Leroy
  • Michael Cerveris .... Frank
  • Gene Hackman .... Arnold Margolese
  • JH Wyman .... Screenwriter
  • Gore Verbinski .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

A crim-loser-romantic-comedy that's part Traffic, part Thelma and Louise, part Lock, stock and two smoking barrels and just a little bit rock and roll.

Pairing up Julia and Brad as the harridan and the bimbo crim is the cleverest move because their names will pull in a lot of people who wouldn't bother to see the film because it's part of a genre that's being thrashed to within a centimetre of its life. Loser crims running around while being messed over by bigger crims with louder guns and practising a bit of the good old ultra-violence is very easy to write but very hard to put on film - at least in the sense of being worth watching.

The Mexican has a strong cinematographic echo with Traffic in that The Mexican scenes are burnt with the hot southern sun. It might be two people having the same idea or it might be the way Americans see their swarthier neighbours but it's already passed from original to cliché. The trick of showing the various myths surrounding "The Mexican" as a silent black and white movie within a movie is clever but serves no artistic purpose. Ultimately it detracts from the rest of the film by undermining the reality of the "real" sequences.

Brad still has the boyish looks that have made him a millionaire but he's also starting to show the creases and lines of a youth well spent. Hoorah for not having face lifts in a doomed attempt to deny the inevitable. He acts well, as always, walking the fine line between loser and competent crim which is a good thing because Jerry is a man caught in a situation not of his own making. He's a crim with a gun to his head. Julia shrieks well, exploiting none of the saccharin tricks she used in the memorable hit Runaway bride. She and James get a good thing going in their road movie bits, which also sets up a most un-American darkness in Leroy's death. mind you, he's a bad guy so he still deserves to die. Bad guys always die. Good guys always live.

But the story is the thing you want to know about. The twisted web of deceit, lies, subversion, theft, brute force and outright killing is interesting enough to keep your attention, but at just over two hours, The Mexican is a tad long: chop out 12 minutes and you'd have a much tighter film. It's neither Traffic nor Lock, stock and two smoking barrels but it's not far off.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Commentary: Gore Verbinski
  • Features:
    • Deleted scenes
    • Making-of
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 16:9
  • Subtitles: English captions
  • Trailers: Theatrical (2)

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence)

Surveillance time

120 minutes (2:00 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental: Undated October 2001
DVD retail: 6 March 2002
VHS retail: 6 March 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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