Desperado

on August 25, 1995 by Lael Loewenstein
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"Desperado" is such a fun, exhilarating film and its star, Antonio Banderas, so stunningly photographed in every frame that this movie might do for his American career what "Legends of the Fall" did for Brad Pitt. In this follow-up to Robert Rodriguez's no-budget wonder "El Mariachi," Banderas takes over the lead with gusto. As the black-garbed, guitar-toting Mariachi, he plunges headlong into the dark underworld of a Mexican border town ruled by the druglord Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida). No sooner has he arrived at the local saloon than he's confronted with hostile fire. Opening his guitar case, he unleashes a hailstorm of bullets with astonishing speed. There's shooting aplenty in "Desperado," but the violence is so stylized and the conflicts so lovingly evocative of spaghetti westerns that the tone remains light throughout.
   Rodriguez's second film boasts high production values--the obvious benefits of a studio budget--as evidenced in Guillermo Navarro's slick and colorful cinematography. Banderas oozes sexual charisma and strength, and the supporting cast is strong all around, especially a wily Steve Buscemi as the Mariachi's friend. As the Mariachi's beautiful love interest, Salma Hayek holds her own, and even Quentin Tarantino doesn't overact for a change in a brief appearance at the saloon. Los Lobos composed the breezy and upbeat score. "Desperado" promises to be a big hit, just the sort of English-language crossover that Rodriguez needs to be able to reach wider audiences. Starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Joaquim de Almeida. Directed and written by Robert Rodriguez. Produced by Bill Borden. A Columbia release. Western. Rated R for strong bloody violence, a strong sex sequence and language. Running time: 107 min.
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