Gunning for Love

Brad and Julia get pistol-whipped by 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 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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