Superstars Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts team up for the first time in this heist action pic that combines black humor with relationship drama.
Pitt is perpetual goof-up Jerry, who's forced into indentured servitude by a gang of two-bit mobsters after he unwittingly lands their boss in jail. The gangsters agree to let Jerry out of his terms of service if he can pull off one last job smuggling a priceless, handmade gun known as "the Mexican" over the border. Trouble is, Jerry's long-suffering girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) wants him out of the business, like, now. When he takes off for Mexico anyway, a furious Roberts hops in her VW Beetle hell-bent for Vegas. Along the way she's taken hostage by a hit man (James Gandolfini) hired by the mob to make sure doofus Jerry brings the gun back intact and doesn't try any funny stuff.
Pitt is well-cast as the dumb, hapless mob errand boy who somehow gets out of a myriad of dangerous situations thanks to a combination of his own foolishness and dumb luck. America's sweetheart Roberts is passable as unsophisticated Samantha, who has a knack for giving relationship advice that helps her befriend her captor and suss out his "issues." Acting separately (which they do throughout most of the film), these megastars are OK. Together, they have zero chemistry - especially since all they do together is quarrel (enough, already). It's Gandolfini who steals what he can of the show as a homosexual hit man merely looking for love like everyone else - he's surprised that his hostage so aggressively takes an interest in his life, and just as surprised at himself that he lets her in. This role left plenty of room for him to camp it up, but Gandolfini took the low road, playing it subtle and sensitive.
Getting Roberts and Pitt together on-screen for two hours should have been a cause célèbre. Why, then, is "The Mexican" such a letdown? For one thing, their story lines go off in such completely different directions that audiences will wonder if they're still watching the same movie. Then there's the Samantha-analyzes-gay-thug story line, which was unendingly silly, not to mention tediously irrelevant. The weird way violence and fluffy psychobabble are juxtaposed might work in a truly comic black comedy, but not with the weak jokes and dialogue here (Pitt to Mexican workers: "I need a lift in your truck-o to the next town-o!" C'mon). Despite creative, effective cinematography and some unexpected plot surprises, "The Mexican" falls flat as a tortilla.
With a plot as meandering as the Rio Grande and scenes more painful than the prick of a cactus spine, you're better off staying at home than going to "The Mexican."