ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, the most recent hyper-actioner to hit Bangkok, has a star-studded cast - Willem Dafoe    -Johnny Depp, and Mickey Rourke, and a handful of young, up-and-comers.  And then there's Antonio Banderas, to whom Producer/Director Robert Rodriguez continues to provide employment - in every movie he makes.  Rodriguez has faith that Banderas will one day become a star - and in this endeavor, we wish Rodriguez the best of luck, because Banderas is no longer that young 'hunk-appeal hot-property' who couldn't act - he is now pudgy, running headlong into middle age, and can't act.
It is apparent that Rodriguez couldn't make up his mind; 'Am I gonna do it straight, or am I gonna send it up?'  'ONCE UPON A TIME' is at once in our face with grossly exaggerated violence and even more grossly exaggerated stereotyping.  And by 'grossly', I mean it is pure 'comic-book'.  This film has the 'look and feel' of Looney Tunes or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - but without the cartooning.  The shoot-out scenes were an absolute parody on the genre... (Our heroine pulls a handful of small silver knives from her garter and with a single throw, each knife seeks out and kills one baddie...)  Johnny Depp's characterization of the foreign-affairs-meddling CIA Agent is so over-the-top it borders on sublime farce.  (Johnny, to his credit, realized this, and played it for all it was worth.)  The viewer gets a déjà vu sense that the endless bloodbath is being perpetuated by sociopaths who enjoy seeing people die unexpectedly in the most unusual ways - but why the déjà vu?  There's a reason for that - those who were able to last through the credits might have noted a 'special thanks' to Quentin Tarantino. (Really.)
There is a lot of hype in the Media about 'ONCE UPON A TIME' being the third in Rodriguez' "Mariachi Trilogy".  This is a lot of collective hooey, or collective wishful thinking to be more precise, because Rodriguez has said no such thing - we could be subjected to a fourth, or even fifth or sixth in the series, like a kind of South-Of-The-Border James Bond series. Very ominous indeed - cinematically, we could be heading into a new Dark Ages...
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