Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003)
Wow, I really didn’t like this movie that much. It won enough awards and critical nods but Rodriguez made one of the more star-studded piles of shit that I’ve seen in awhile. Maybe I’d have to have seen the previous two to really like it. Someone recommended this one as part of the “movies to see about the CIA” genre but good grief it was just terrible. Antonio Banderas was a little more brooding but basically himself. Depp basically presents himself as almost talking it through, “I’m a CIA agent, I work in covert spy stuff, I overthrow governments, I use people, I’m CIA, I’m tricky, I use dirty tricks, I like disguises, I’m CIA, I’m CIA, I’m CIA…” Everyone else is just background except for Billy and Jorge subplot which was a weird mirage-like island of rational human drama amidst the botulism infected canned spaghetti western.
It was nice to see something involving the CIA that wasn’t in a jungle or the US or Russia or eastern Europe, I’ll give you that. The CIA overthrow of an Latin American ruler, the plotting but basic ineffective nature of the CIA covert actions, the CIA’s manipulation of indigenous elements and criminals to destabilize a country, the CIA-FBI cooperation, the very real presence of drug cartels in Mexican politics, etc. etc. make it worth watching in a way I suppose. It’s still pretty painful and cringe-worthy.
TL;DR Sands is the love-child of Sparrow and Tonto
He has all these great characters with wonderful ideas and costumes but I can never get past the overpowering presence of Depp that bleaches out the character he’s trying to become. It’s hard to put words to the idea of how this kind of method acting is better but I guess at least I feel like he’s trying. Other career actors just show up as themselves in different settings and expect awards and accolades. So yes, Depp upstaged the brooding latin Banderas who is who he always is.