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Gunning for Love

Brad and Julia get pistol-whipped by The Mexican.

Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts aren't very picante in The Mexican.
Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts aren't very picante in The Mexican.

What the movie does manage is atmosphere, delivering a much more enticing portrait of Mexico than Traffic could summon (although it takes a few scenes to get over the shock that this is a movie without Benicio Del Toro in it). Both in the present day and in a series of flickering, sepia-toned flashbacks relating the pistol's accursed origin, Verbinski struts his stuff as a visual stylist (with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski), affording the project a rich sense of place. But just peel back the thin layers of romance, comedy and action, and The Mexican is revealed for what it is: an attempt at cinematic diplomacy, albeit a feeble one.

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