Anthony's Film Review

Desperado (1995)

Desperado is just OK, mainly because of overhyped action in front of a thin plot...

Robert Rodriguez's directorial debut El Mariachi in 1992 was such a critically acclaimed movie that he was granted a lot more funding for his next movie. Naturally, the question that comes to mind is whether the director would still focus on getting the story, characters, and other basic elements right, or go nuts with spending on making the movie visually pleasing at the sacrifice of those important film elements. Well, his next movie, Desperado, which is a sequel to El Mariachi, seems to have involved the latter. The result is something that would mainly please audience members who love action just for the sake of action.

There's also another change, though not one I'm complaining about: a new actor for the main character. The nameless El Mariachi is now played by Antonio Banderas, replacing Carlos Gallardo from the previous film (though he has a cameo role as a character dressed similarly to El Mariachi). I can't say why Gallardo couldn't just reprise the same role he had before, but at least Banderas is all right as a toughened musician turned gunman. As for the other cast members, the female lead, Salma Hayek as bookstore owner Carolina, is not bad either. But I do think that the supporting cast of Steve Buscemi as a friend of El Mariachi, Quentin Tarantino as a pickup guy, and Cheech Marin as a bartender is not necessary, as they are ultimately throwaway characters.

Because of these three minor characters, part of the movie feels like it's occupied with filler material rather than stuff that contributes to the story. The action scenes, which I'll talk about in a little bit, also seem to interrupt the story rather than push it along. In the end, this 100-minute movie has a plot that really lasts about 30 minutes. For me, watching Desperado involved alternating between following the plot and waiting for the filler scenes to end so that the plot could continue. It's definitely not as well written as El Mariachi in 1992 with a story that constantly moves forward.

It's definitely clear that Desperado focuses on action more than anything else. While I am partially criticizing the action for interrupting the plot, I am partially praising it for being intense and fun. When Banderas brandishes his guns, he is ferocious, fearless, and quick. This man can really point two guns in different directions, fire his shots accurately, and dive out of the way when bullets are coming for him. Clearly, El Mariachi has come a long way from the more innocent man he was in the previous 1992 movie.

It's unfortunate that Robert Rodriguez's screenwriting and directing were not as good as before after being granted a large budget for Desperado. But it's not a huge loss. Desperado has its moments, in both action and non-action scenes. There is enough material to constitute a complete movie, even if it doesn't feel quite as solid as I would like it to be. Let's also remember that Desperado is Rodriguez's second major directorial work, so he still has a chance to show what he's got. With Desperado, I'm sure there are plenty of people who will be interested in his future works.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Desperado, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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