Once Upon a Time

Bullets fly, blood spills and the body count mounts in Robert Rodriguezs new film Once Upon a Time in Mexico.But unlike many action films, Mexico has a self-confidence about it that makes it a lot of fun. Rodriguez understands how superficial his film really is, and uses humor to turn that flaw into an advantage.The third film in the El Mariachi/Desperado series follows a silent but deadly Mexican Whitman known only as El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas). Mexico begins with Whitman in retirement after a corrupt Mexican general murders his wife (Salma Hayek) and daughter. But El Mariachi is coaxed out of retirement by a rogue CIA agent (Johnny Depp) when the agent offers him a chance to gain a measure of revenge and stop the general before he overthrows the countrys president.Banderas has mastered this role with a quiet effectiveness that resembles Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns, and he has plenty of support. Depp, perhaps the only reason worth seeing Pirates of the Caribbean, again channels a goofy persona that only enhances the films humorous side. Depp really sinks his teeth into this unorthodox character, who in one scene kills a cook because he has just served him the best meal hes ever had in Mexico.Hayek exudes some of the tough sexiness from Desperado that made her a celebrity, and 2 Fast and 2 Furious star Eva Mendes makes an impact as well. There are even some nice comedic touches from Willem Dafoe as the druglord overseeing the attempted presidential coup, and Mickey Rourke as his rather bizarre sidekick.While the film features plenty of memorable characters, the real reason it all works is because of writer/director Rodriguez. The filmmaker gets back a little momentum after this summers dreadful Spy Kids 3-D with a film that features plenty of the directors trademark action.The film moves along briskly from action sequence to action sequence, with a flair for unapologetic violence, and the ability to make an audience laugh in spite of the obscene body count.Thats not to say Once Upon a Time in Mexico doesnt have its flaws the plot does tend to get a little convoluted with all the characters and, with the exception of Depp, no one really has much to say. Still, its a refreshing return to Rodriguezs more bloody side. While it might not be as good as Desperado, it still has enough to make it an enjoyable action flick. Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton is still seeking financing for Once Upon a Time in Bowling Green, a bloody action-thriller starring (he hopes) Charlton Heston as Mike Compson, the rags-to-riches hero, and Liz Taylor as his sidekick/love interest/backstabbing plot twist. To donate to the cause, or just to comment on his reviews, e-mail mcompton@bgdailynews.com

Recommended for you