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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 69:43)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Behind the scenes footage

The Mexican

Dreamworks/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 119 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

No matter how many Who Weekly covers he seems to grace, I just can’t help finding new respect for Brad Pitt. Flying in the face of the ‘normal’ Hollywood star track, his tendency of late has been to step outside the circle of mainstream American films, and take on riskier, even self-deprecating roles - using his star power, as it were, for good instead of evil. His hysterical turn in Twelve Monkeys, his prince of civil disobedience in Fight Club, not to mention his self-deprecating and piss-funny gypsy from Snatch immediately spring to mind.

The Mexican continues this trend, with Pitt portraying Jerry Welbach, a good-natured, yet incompetent buffoon who suffers from an unenviable dose of bad luck. Indebted to an LA crime boss for accidentally causing his incarceration, over the last five years Jerry has run odd jobs for the mob to settle the score. Many times over, Jerry’s been told that just one more job will see his debt repaid and finally it seems that he is off the hook. But when the mob calls him in for yet another ‘last’ job (to pick up an antique gun from a small town in Mexico), his neurotic, therapy-addicted girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts) makes an ultimatum – accompany her to Las Vegas as they had planned - or she’s leaving. Faced with a choice between Mexico and certain death, Jerry is soon flying south of the border and Samantha is heading out across the desert alone.

Of course once in Mexico Jerry’s bad luck does not fail him, and before long he’s in way over his head. Samantha too finds herself in a sticky situation when the mob sends a hitman (James Gandofini) to baby sit her whilst Jerry is away - just in case he doesn’t come back with the goods…

"By the grace of God or I don't know what honey, you have managed to Forrest Gump your way through this."

Working as both an action/adventure and quirky romantic comedy, The Mexican supplies a smart, wordy script that intertwines three separate anti-heroes (Pitt, Roberts and Gandolfini) into a caper-plot that twists and turns for the film’s entire length. Pitt and Roberts display a palpable comedy chemistry, despite linked only by a telephone (and sporadically at that) for much of the film. As we have come to expect, Brad Pitt is genuinely funny as the well-meaning yet incompetent Jerry, and Julia Roberts packs her role with the same kind of frazzled femininity that has become her bread and butter recently. Ultimately however, it's James Gandolfini who steals the show - bringing his Sopranos Mafia credibility with him, yet lending it a distinctly non-stereotypical twist.

To tell you much more about this fine film would ruin the many surprises that The Mexican has in store, I suggest you go out and enjoy it for yourself!

  Video
Contract

When Michael reviewed the rental-only version of The Mexican back in September, he judged it to be of 'excellent quality' and I must say that I agree whole heartedly - the transfer provided by Universal is nothing short of stunning. At an aspect ratio of 2.25:1, the anamorphic image is sharp as a tack and there’s oodles of detail on display. The grimy Mexican locations, both interior and exterior, are highly textured and literally team with detail. Colours are vivid and leap off the screen; the desert light of Mexico and Nevada providing brilliant exterior lighting and an image with maximum contrast. Black level is also perfect, as is shadow detail - coming into its own during several night scenes.

MPEG artefacts are nowhere in sight. There are a very few film artefacts early on, but they are tiny and i didn't notice them first time through. There is also a little aliasing due to the sharpness of the image, but this is infrequent and not at all distracting. All in all this is a near-perfect job by Universal and should be applauded.

  Audio
Contract

Providing a single audio track - English Dolby Digital 5.1 - The Mexican is primarily a dialogue-centric comedy so there's no point expecting a balls-and-all effects extravaganza. This said however, the soundtrack is one that creeps up on you - perfectly constructed and subtly supporting the action when called upon.

Importantly, dialogue is perfectly clear and distinct, and there are no sync issues. But it is in terms of ambient sound that The Mexican really shines, with all channels called upon to supply a range of location sounds from children, crowds, lounge singers and so on. Channel separation is perfect, and directional effects are put to good use to direct dialogue and effects such as vehicles and gunshots from various points in the sound stage. The subwoofer is used sparingly but to great effect, bursting to life during gunshots, the fireworks of Mexican festivals and the rumbling of monolithic road-trains.

A distinctive score, care of Alan Silvestri, also adds perfectly to the tone of each scene - and as director Gore Verbinski indicates in the commentary - borrows heavily from the westerns of Sergio Leone and his contemporaries (although for me it is quite reminiscent of the French classic Manon de Sources). All in all, the audio transfer for The Mexican is a nice piece of work indeed, making full use of 5.1 surround potentials to construct a subtle yet pleasing sound stage.

  Extras
Contract

Now that the rental-only window has finally expired, Universal present us with a sell-through release of this fine film that, in addition to the quality audio and video presentation, also provides a bag of extras that will satisfy even the most ardent fan:

  • Commentary: featuring director Gore Verbinski, writer J.H. Wyman and editor Craig Wood. Although containing many gaps where the participants get caught up in the film itself, this is an interesting commentary that discusses all aspects of the production, including the Mexican locations, the lead and supporting performances, Alan Silvestri’s score and so on.

  • Featurette – The Making Of: At 15 minutes in length, and sporting a great looking anamorphic transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.35:1, this is how all featurettes should look. And the content even lives up to the treatment! A great behind the scenes look at the production, featuring footage from on-set and interviews with the leads and director Gore Verbinski. It provides a lot of useful information about the production, troubles with the locations, and the motivation of the actors for doing the film. There’s the normal "I just wanted the opportunity to work with so-and-so, he/she’s so cool" type gushing, but there’s also some great stuff here. Well worth the running time.

  • Deleted Scenes: Eight deleted scenes with optional commentary from Verbinski explaining why they were cut from the production. Strangely, an additional (ninth) deleted scene with no commentary is also supplied.

  • Trailers x2: At an aspect ratio of 1.35:1, and with anamorphic transfers that come close to the main feature, this is how all trailers should look.

All in all a comprehensive collection of extras, that makes our region 4 release basically equivalent to its region 1 counterpart.

  Overall  
Contract

Where Brad Pitt seems interested in using his star power for good, Julia Roberts has notably swayed in the other direction, and I for one have found most of her last few films (with the exception of Erin Brockovich) totally woeful. Julia really could do herself a lot of good by getting involved in a few more projects like The Mexican. I’ll readily admit I resisted seeing the film initially due solely to her name above the title.

But don’t make the same mistake I did. The Mexican is a funny and rewarding film, not least because of the great script and fine comic performances from the leads (especially James Gandofini). This is a film that you will appreciate more on the second viewing, after all that expectation guff has worn off. It's fast become one of my favourites and my copy of this long-awaited sell-through by Universal has had a good work-out already. Highly recommended.


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      And I quote...
    "This action/adventure come quirky, romantic-comedy, is fast becoming one of my favourites..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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