Pros: James Gandolfini
Cons: Julia Roberts, ending is a letdown
The Mexican is an example of a meal from Chi-Chi’s thinking that it’s real Mexican cuisine. The cooks claim they put quite a bit of work into this meal, yet it is still overcooked in some places and under-cooked in others.
The film begins as Jerry (Brad Pitt) is told that he owes the crime boss that he works for (as a delivery boy) one last job. His assignment: travel south of the border and retrieve an antique pistol (the Mexican of the title) that has a long history behind it and deliver it to the crime boss. As we’ve already established, Jerry is a royal screw-up. In fact, Leslie Nielsen could play him quite well if he were 30 years younger.
The news of Jerry’s assignment does not go over well with his girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts). She literally throws a tantrum when she hears the news and promptly splits, headed for Vegas while he heads South of the border. Of course, neither of their plans goes according to plan.
Jerry finds himself in increasingly tough situations that he can’t get out of. He gets his car stolen, he gets beaten up, he gets shot at etc.
Samantha meanwhile finds herself getting kidnapped at the airport by a hitman named Leroy, played by James Gandolfini. It is here where the movie, which had been kinda ambling along for a while without really going anywhere, starts to pick up steam.
Leroy was assigned to kidnap Samantha as a means of ensuring that Jerry does his job. However it turns into something that is far different from the usual kidnapping. Samantha and Leroy strike up a conversation and take a liking to each other. No romance though, for Leroy is gay. Before long, they are airing out their problems to each other, while Jerry is having a hell of a time down in Mexico.
The Leroy character is easily the best thing about the whole movie. His hitman is a character who is tough yet sympathetic. He shares a lot of the same qualities as Tony Soprano, yet he is not a Tony Soprano clone.
Problem is, whenever Leroy goes off screen, the movie starts to drag. The scenes with Jerry in Mexico have some limited amusement value to them, yet they get old fast. And the conclusion of the film itself is a major letdown.
The biggest problem with the film is the overall relationship between Jerry and Samantha. They spend way too much time bickering, only to come together towards the end. Other films feature bickering couples that get their quarrels resolved through danger and sometimes that element works. Here it doesn’t. The chemistry between Pitt and Roberts comes off as somewhat forced.
Also Samantha is such a shrew! Her opening hissy fit where she throws things off of the balcony and yells stuff at Jerry in a screechy voice made me wonder if Roseanne Barr had wandered in from another movie set (for a movie that I would definitely avoid). I don’t know who should be blamed more for Samantha being so annoying, the screenwriter for writing her that way or Roberts for playing her like that. So I will divide the blame equally between the two of them.
So The Mexican has too many strikes against it for me to recommend it (in good conscience anyway). It is better than a lot of the crap that was released to the multiplexes around the same time (See Spot Run) and the Gandolfini performance is good. So if you do decide to see it, fast-forward to the Leroy scenes. Otherwise you’ll find yourself checking your watch quite often.