Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
The Mexican (2001)
15

We are so used to watching screen killers who are strictly off-the-peg (neanderthals with lantern jaws and the little piggy eyes of the terminally dim) that it still causes us to sit bolt upright - even in this post-Tarantino era - when we are presented with one who has a real, not to mention complex, personality.

And so it is with Leroy, a pleasant, chatty hard-nut, a hired killer who loves his job but who has unbridled sensitivity for those he likes or is not about to cover with concrete. He is especially good at exhibiting his teddy-bear warmth to other men. He is, in other words, gay. He is also fleshed out threateningly, and amusingly, by James Gandolfini, who brings with him his mesmerising, still power from "The Sopranos". The actor is also helped by the fact that this comedy-thriller is anchored in character.

And it is Gandolfini who steals the film since - charming and funny though they often are - Julia Roberts only has to play anxious and distressed, and Pitt geeky and daft. He is a reluctant bagman - a likeable, disorganised dope - who is being boxed in tightly by both his gangland boss (Pitt's one last chance to prove himself is to retrieve an antique pistol from Mexico) and his highly-strung, psychobabbling girlfriend, who insists he finally goes clean. Pitt's journey to Mexico is an excuse for a shaggy dog story, a bumpy blend of romantic comedy, and light thriller, which does have its sharp moments, many of which involve the edgy exchanges between Gandolfini and Roberts, but it is too often stretched out and overweight. It is also an excuse for a Tarantino-style blend of eccentricity and violence. But it is the "Sopranos" star who loads up his scenes with the crispness and the power which the rest of the film lacks.

End Credits

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: W H Wyman

Stars: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, Bob Balaban, J K Simmons, David Krumhotz

Genre: Crime, Romance

Length: 123 minutes

Cinema: 27 April 2001

Country: USA

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