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The Mexican

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The Mexican Rated: R

The Movie

Had this been your bog-standard romantic comedy, this first screen pairing of Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt would have cleaned-up at the box office. But, once again, Dreamworks took a massive gamble with a wildly unconventional, genre-spanning road movie/romance/comedy/western/crime drama that separates the couple for 90% of the film.

Pitt is small-time criminal Jerry, a perpetual loser forced to do one more job for a crime boss he owes a mysterious debt to - the retrieval of a fabled and possibly cursed gun from a small Mexican town. Roberts is his fiery girlfriend Samantha who's aghast that their move to Vegas has been put on hold, and is soon abducted by hitman Leroy (Gandolfini), to ensure that Jerry does his job properly.

This shrewdly scripted, brightly performed oddity requires patience and several leaps of faith from the viewer. It does hit the bulls-eye with the endearing relationship between Roberts and Gandolfini (Oscar-worthy work from the Sopranos star), clever visual flourishes from director Gore Verbinski (the 'old-style' flashbacks are wonderful) and Alan Sylvestri's amusing, imitation Morricone score. 4 stars - Damn Good DiscIf only it knew when to quit.

The Extras

Presentation is excellent, with many of Sylvestri's musical motifs and bags of nice stills. The anamorphic transfer is generally solid, though the harsh Mexican sunlight reveals occasional fuzziness. All audio set-up possibilities are impressively supported, with a choice of 2.0, 5.1 and DTS.

Director Verbinski, editor Craig Wood and writer JH Wyman team-up for a calm, organized Commentary that avoids the pitfalls of incomprehensibility that often occur with multiple speakers. It's more interested in small character and plot nuances than the 'tricks of the trade' and there are some eloquent observations ("a movie about expectations not being fulfilled"), as well as a likeable sense of self-mockery. Though not as trivia-packed as many others, it does bring some of the film's subtler qualities to the surface.

Their many references to cut sequences are supported by From the Cutting Room Floor, which contains 23 minutes of excellent Deleted Scenes (see sidebar), all of which have optional Commentary, are fully mixed and of a high visual quality.

Although only 15 minutes in length, HBO's The Making of The Mexican covers a lot of ground, and its expertly edited blend of clips, interviews and behind-the-scenes shots puts most featurettes to shame. Naturally, the stars get plenty of opportunities to air their views and their genuine enjoyment of filming in Mexico shines through. There's also an interesting glimpse of the hand-cranked camera at work on the gun back-story and lots of deserved praise for Mr Gandolfini.

Complementing these meatier extras are two Trailers, bang up-to-date 4 stars - Damn Fine DiscCast and Filmmakers info and good Production Notes.

Jason Caro

Brad and Julia go south of the Border

Credits
The Mexican on DVD

Cast
Brad Pitt
Julia Roberts
James Gandolfini
Director • Gore Verbinksi
Year • 2001
Duration • 123 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby
Digital 5.1 / DTS
Chapters • 26
Languages • English
Subtitles • English
Release Date • August 7
Distributor • Dreamworks

Highlight

Chapter 24 – Mr Margolese / The Legend Part Tres
The great cameo from a great actor, and the definitive explanation of the Mexican's tragic ancestry.

Deleted Scenes

It's Frank
Samantha and Leroy talk murder and are then surprised by a familiar face.
Why Can't We Be Friends
Frank (Michael Cerveris) encounters the other hitman.
You Don't Know Me
An unexpected revelation, in an extended version of the emotional breakfast chat.
Marriage is a Big Thing
The start of an additional sub plot, as the pawnbroker offers Ted (JK Simmons) his daughter.
Top America
Ted changes his mind when Cupid fires his bow.
The Wedding
More Brad and Julia, plus traditional Mexican marriage celebration.
It's Cursed That Gun
Jerry is interrogated by the rather annoyed thief
A Dull Ache
A hilarious car sequence with serious historical undertones, as Jerry and the thief patch up their differences.

From Ultimate DVD #21

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