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Non-Review Review: Desperado

I’d never seen Desperado. I had seen once Upon a Time in Mexico, and found it to be an enjoyably over-the-top (if not particularly deep) action movie anchored in some strong performances. Mom and my sister happened to be attending a Take That concert, so Dad and I decided to stick in this now-classic actioner and put together our own opinion on the beastie.

El Mariachi's guitar solos went down the bomb in that bar...

El Mariachi's guitar solos went down the bomb in that bar...

The thing about Desperado is that, in anyone else’s hands, it would be stupid, immature and pointless. It would collapse under the weight of its own ridiculousness. In Robert Rodriguez, the film has its perfect director to balance its quieter moments with it’s gratuitous violence. The director/writer/producer/editor has an eye for this sort of thing, and the majority of his work on what could have been a cliched film seems relatively fresh and energetic. Despite a very serious and solemn (and a very good) opening, the movie never falls into the trap of taking itself too seriously.

The actors embrace the caricatures that they play. If Joaquim de Almeida is going to play a one-dimensional villain, that dimension is going to be scenery-chewingly evil. Sure, the climactic revelation doesn’t really make sense (even if you fall out of touch with your brother, you tend to know if he’s a drug baron), but the movie doesn’t seem to even flirt with logic – which is nice, in a way. The movie is good, clean entertaining fun.

The only real complaint about the movie is that it stinks of the smartest kid in the class just doing the bare minimum. The sheer volume of talent in the film seems almost wasted in a production that is as fun as it is pointless. It also seems more than a little self-indulgent at times. To be fair, Rodriguez has made good on his talent since then, and is showing a lot more range at the moment than his good pal Quentin Tarantino. Still, while the movie’s good, you get the sense it could have been so much better.

Desperado is directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Planet Terror) and stars Antonio Banderas (Assassins, Spy Kids), Salma Hayek (From Dusk Til Dawn, Freda), Joaquim de Almeida (24, Clear and Present Danger), Cheech Marin (Nash Bridges, Lost), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Planet Terror), Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Miller’s Crossing) and Danny Trejo (Machete!, Anchorman). It was released in the US on 25th August 1995, but didn’t see release in the UK and Ireland until 9th February 1996.

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