Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003 97mins.) [Sony Movie Channel 10.50pm &+1]
(Sky 323, Freeview 32, Virgin 425)
Directed and written by Robert Rodriguez.
In this sequel to 'Desperado', a Mexican drug lord pretends to overthrow the Mexican government, and is connected to a corrupt CIA agent who at that time, demands retribution from his worst enemy to carry out the drug lord's uprising against the government.
Rodriguez revisits his El Mariachi hitman character (played again by Antonio Banderas), the titular star of his breakthrough self-financed film and his first US film ("Desperado"). The obvious question is - why? Did he have anything new left to do with the character? and the answer is a resounding no.
This second or third (depending on how you're counting) El Mariachi film has a plot that either makes no sense whatsoever or is overly complicated that it defies untangling. There's a whole mass of well known faces in the cast list who don't really have an awful lot to do and the dialogue seems to exist only to link the set-pieces together.
However, the action sequences are remarkable : Rodriguez has a real talent for choreographing fight scenes and gun battles ; each one is slightly more frenetic than the last and they give the film a real sense of momentum.
There's some small splashes of humour in among the killing sprees : the undercover CIA man wearing a CIA branded T-Shirt to a bull fight for example.
And there's another winning, slightly off-kilter turn from Johnny Depp who walks away with the acting honours despite the presence of Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Eva Mendes, Salma Hayek and Danny Trejo among the sprawling cast.
An utterly superficial film but still enormous fun for the 100 minutes or so that you're watching it.
Perfect viewing for a hot and sticky tuesday night.