The Mexican (2001) dir. Gore Verbinski writ. J.H. Wyman cine. Dariusz Woiski edt. Craig Wood art. Michael Atwell music Alan Silvestri
star. Brad Pitt (Jerry), Julia Roberts (Sam), James Gandolfini (Winston, a.k.a. Leroy), J.K. Simmons (Ted), Bob Balaban (Bernie Nayman), Gene Hackman (Margolese), David Krumholtz (Beck), Richard Coca (Thief), Sherman Agustus (sharp-dressed hitman) (Leroy), Salvador Sanchez (gunsmith), Melissa Romero (gunsmith's daughter), Pedro Armendariz (Mexican cop), et. al.
sex and travel
It's a bummer, man. Been having problems with the chick recently, so bad we been doing the Group thing, exploring our feelings. Just can't keep my mind on business, know what I mean? Ran a light on Laurel Terrace, plowed into this guy, a heavy business dude called Margolese... cops came, found a guy tied up in his trunk, so this Margolese is major pissed, insists I work off my debt because a) for what I did to his car and because b) for this inconvenience with the police. Yeah, work off my debt... like I'm indentured to him or something.
So I go to work with the best of intentions. Don't want Sam to think I'm a complete screwup, because, uh, despite our problems, we're pretty good in the sack, got something worth working for. Problem is, she wants me outta the game. She says, no more jobs. I say, sure, no more jobs. Yeah, that's what I say. No more jobs, no more sleazy bullshit.
Well, just one more job. Mr. Margolese insists.
He's got this little weasel for a manager, guy called Bernie Nayman. Bernie's always scowling. "You got that fuckin' passport?" he says as I step into the office. Yeah, sure. But he's not happy, wants to wrap me in a carpet, douse me with gasoline. Well, he's gonna give me one chance, just one. "You like sex and travel?" he says.
What a sleaze. Like, I'm in a relationship, dude. Got this babe called Samantha. Drives a metallic guacamole VW Beetle, wants to go to Las Vegas, be a waitress, train to be a croupier. That's cool.
So I tell her, just one more job.
She loses it, kicks me out of the apartment, screams at me from the balcony about her needs, how I'm just a selfish prick and all. She's throwing stuff at me, hollering, like totally lost it. She won't listen, doesn't believe me when I say I gotta do this job, just gotta, else I'm dead meat. "Jerry," she says, "you go to Mexico and I won't be here when you get back." Can you believe it? And last night she called me darling and Big Love.
Chicks... cars... guns. All trouble, man.
They're sending me to Mexico to pick up this special gun, an antique pistol that Margolese just has to have. Why? You tell me. I've never been to Mexico, don't speak a word, unless we count taco. Yep, they're sending old Jerry to Mexico to pick up this antique pistol from a kid called Beck. Alls I gotta do is bring it back and I'm free of my debt to Mr. Margolese... and I can get on with my relationship... shouldn't be too difficult, should it?
something a little more Mexican
So I take a Mexicana jet from L.A., land in the desert someplace, still thinking about Samantha. Good lookin' chick, tall, big mouth like that movie star, Julia Roberts. Hey, we look good together, right? Some people say I look like Brad Pitt. Yeah. Big, cuddly, sorta naive. Not dumb, just sorta naive. We make a great couple. Sure, in the real world they'd never make it, Brad and Julia I mean, cause big stars gotta spread themselves around, everyone wants a piece. But me and Sam, we run like dogs. We can make it. Everybody at the Group figures we can.
Car rental, they wanna give me a Chrysler. A Chrysler, chrissakes. We're in Mexico, dude, so how's about something a little more Mexican... yeah, like that El Camino pickup, the one with the Christ doll on the dash, the rosary beads swingin' from the rear-view mirror, nice seventies V-8... roll on down that highway through the desert, the big cacti, the big tunnel... roll on into San Miguel, the old silver town. This is where I meet Senor Beck, the kid who wears the iodine shades. In a bar where only the banditos go... and dumb gringos like me, can't even keep my 38 tight in my waistband.
Beck has the pistola and everything's cool. We get pissed, a few tequilas, beers, he tells me the story of this little beauty. Chamber is a silver heart, like a symbol of what it's all about, this old pistol in Mexico. The gunsmith's daughter, her suitors. Tragedy, man... is all tragedy. This gun, this chick, the guy who's in love with her, just can't get it together. Bad scene. Good thing me and Sam ain't like that. Romance... I believe in romance. I believe in tequila. Beck's o.k., he's cool, he believes in tequila too. Turns out he's Margolese's nephew. How about that? What do they need me for?
You dream in black and white? I do. Just like an old movie. Yep, is all an old movie, old Mexico.
Fiesta going down outside in the street. Everybody pissed, fireworks, guys firing guns in the air, man it's wild. Is rainin' bullets, man... literally, and Beck gets nailed as he's takin' a piss. Bullet drops out of the sky, drills a hole in his skull. Unreal. I phone Ted, the only guy I totally trust in the Margolese organization, tell him Beck's toast, tell him I've got the pistol... but, uh, as I'm telling him this, some dicks come by in a red Nova, fuckin' steal my fuckin' El Camino! Yeah... steal it when I'm on the phone with Ted, my buddy! The pistol too, she's gone, gone in the El Camino!
Well, next day I get outta town on a donkey. Donkey gets me through the tunnel, and when the donkey takes off, I get a ride with some nice peasants in their el trucko to the next pueblo. Then I trade my watch to a nice little dude in a wrecking yard for, uh, a pickup truck. Yeah, it's a bit rough. Needs a paint job, bit of body work. Guess you could call it real Mexican. Yeah, I'm beginning to see how things work around here. I get the truck and I get the dog. Dog? Yeah, the dog. Some sorta Mexican Rottweiler, lives in the truck, so wherever the truck goes, he goes. Or she. Not sure what it is, he, she. Whatever. Jeeze, what a guy has to do to pay off a debt.
Don't know it at the time but things ain't workin' out back home. Sam takes off, heads for Vegas, totally into her new idea of life. Know that old Nancy Sinatra song, These Boots Are Made For Walking? That's Sam. She walks, she talks... she talks, she walks. Meanwhile that weasel Bernie figures I made up the story about Beck getting whacked, the pistol getting stolen, puts this bad news gay mechanic onto Sam, wants her as a hostage, some leverage against me because I must really have the pistol, right? I don't have it, chrissakes. You know what happened. You know I don't give a shit about the pistol. I love Sam, is all.
Of course I don't know she's split. I'm trying to phone her, thinking she won't pick up because she's still angry, when varoom, the red Nova goes rippin' past. Yes, yes, yes... we back in business, guys! Jump in the truck, peel off in hot pursuit, find the prick in the next town parked outside a bar, my El Camino too. Aw, I'm not normally an evil dude, no way. Maybe the dog is whispering in my ear. Maybe I'm receiving instructions from a higher power. The plan is simple: just ram that handsome red Nova, make it look like an accident.
Yeah, it's good, very good. Ka-Boom! Smasharama! I'm draped over the steering wheel like I'm unconscious and these guys come running out of the bar, the owner of the Nova and his buddies... and I've got my 38 in his face and he's begging his buddies to hand over la pistola (which they do), the keys for El Camino (which they do) and, and, my damn shades which the bastard's wearing! Can you believe it? For this I put the dog on him, take him with me.
the American way
Know what Mexico's like? Rocks, sand, prickly bullshit. I'm thinking, should I shoot this thief or what. He's pleading with me, don't shoot me in the leg, there're arteries... aw, don't shoot me in the foot, aw why... etc etc. "I gotta," I say. "It's the American way." So I shoot him in the foot, leave him there in the prickly bullshit, to roast in the sun, feel a bit of pain for the hassle he's put me through. I try to be fair.
I'm telling this to good old Ted my buddy on the phone, I'm telling him I got the pistol back and he's telling me the mess that Sam's in, Leroy has her. I'm freaking out now. Ted has no idea how bad this Leroy is. Why would Margolese do this? Because it ain't him, it's asshole Bernie. "I got the pistol back," I say. "Sam has nuthin to do with this." Ted's got a plan, says he's coming down to Mexico. "Meet me at the Hotel del Plaza," he says.
Great. I'll do that... cept now I go and lose the pistol again, lousy Mexican cop confiscates it. He arrests me, seems he knows all about the legend of la pistola. Gun has a fatal flaw, kills everybody who tries to fire it. Yeah? Not my problem. My problem is that when he lets me go, he keeps the pistol. "Is mine now," he says.
Jeeze, if this gun is sooo shitty, how come everbody wants it? I follow the fat bastard, watch him sell it to a pawnbroker....
you're a very sensitive person for a cold-blooded killer
Meanwhile friggin' Leroy is driving around the Mojave desert with my girlfriend handcuffed to the door of her VW. And what are they talking about? Me. They're talking about old Jerry. Isn't that typical? This guy, this homosexual killer, is into head talk, is into feelings, all the shit Sam had me doing in the Group. Yeah, he believes her, believes she got nuthin to do with this business, the pistol and all. He believes her when she tells him she's left me. Yeah, he's Mr. Sensitive. Imagine. A gay hitman who believes in romance. Is that American or what? You bet. It's the American way, baby.
They end up in Vegas. Guess Leroy figures I might show up there. Thing is, this crazy black guy is creepin around trying to get his hands on Sam too. Who's he working for? Leroy shot him once before, saved Sam from his clutches... but dude was wearing kevlar, comes back from the dead. He sneaks into their hotel room, pushes this postman off the balcony to his death. Who's the postman? Some guy Leroy and Sam pick up in a truckstop restaurant. Yeah, he's gay too. Now they really got a Group, and Leroy's in love. Extremely weird, right... cept this black killer messes it all up by killing the postie.
When he comes looking for Leroy, Leroy doesn't make the same mistake twice. Sam sees it all, the blood squirting everywhere. Ah, the guy is scum. Leroy had to do what he had to do. "You're very sensitive for a cold-blooded killer," Sam tells him later.
Course, I don't know any of this at the time. I still can't get in touch with Sam... and now that she's come to her senses, she can't get in touch with me. Typical, isn't it? Our inability to communicate.
Ted fills in the blanks. Good old Ted. I mean, he's looking to get out of the business too. "I'm seventeen payments away from Boca Raton," he says. Right. He doesn't have to be here. He doesn't give a shit about romance. He's single, likes it. He gets me good and pissed, then phones Bernie. He doesn't know I'm listening... and I don't like what I hear. I'm thinking maybe old Ted here isn't such a buddy after all, maybe old Ted was sent down here to whack me.
We drop in on the pawnbroker, Ted sticks his 9 mm in the guy's face, tells him we don't fuck around, hand over the pistol. He does, and when old Ted is cuffing him to the wall, I make my move. Sorry Teddy, it's the way it's gotta be. I cuff him to wall right beside the pawnbroker, make my exit with the pistol. "Jerry, fuck's sake, what're you doing blah blah...." I lay it on him... and he acts very offended. Sure, Bernie told him to whack me, sure he did... but old Ted wasn't gonna whack old Jerry, we're tight, man blah blah blah. He wouldn't whack me, he couldn't, Jesus, the very suggestion. Yeah, right. "First they tell you to bring me in, then they tell you to take me out," I scream at him. What can he say?
Adios, Ted. Jerry is now looking out for Jerry.
La pistola -- yes, yes, yes... the little beauty is mine again!
I phone Sam in Vegas. She starts in on me right away, making a big deal out of the mess I've created. No matter what I say, it's all my fault. No matter what's happened to me, what's happened to her is far worse, far far worse. I talk to Leroy. Funny, he doesn't sound like the Leroy I met. No matter. I have the pistol, he can have it. Just let Sam go. That's the deal.
surrounded by loneliness and finality
They fly in to Tolucca and I meet them at the airport. She doesn't like my car, she doesn't like my face. She's real tight with this big prick who's calling himself Leroy, the guy who looks like that psycho James Gandolfini who plays the mafia psycho in The Sopranos. Ever seen that show? Is bullshit, man. That's not the way crime works. I think I know how crime works.
I know this guy ain't Leroy but I don't say anything. Leroy is a black dude, completely dedicated to death. Wears blue suits, like he lives in the sky. I met him once. From what I'm hearing, Leroy was the guy they shot back in Vegas. So who is this guy? Is he really queer? Is he really working for Mr. Margolese? I smell Bernie Nayman. I smell that little weasel. One of these two mechanics is working for him. Nayman's trying to cut Margolese outta the loop, just like Ted was saying. Trying to cut Margolese -- who's still in prison -- and trying to cut me. Complicated?
So we cruising south through the desert, Sam sulking on the outside, Mr. Sensitive in the middle, me behind the wheel.
Just can't take Sam's needling bullshit anymore. Just can't. I threaten to crash the El Camino if she doesn't shut her trap. "One more word," I say. She can't resist. Nope, she can't resist. "Nahaugahyde," she says, the bitch. That's fuckin' it, man. I yank the wheel, head for a power pole, just miss by inches, cut tracks in the gravel, lurch into the on-coming traffic... tanker truck heading straight at us, trailer already sliding into a 90 degree, holy jeeze....
Yep. That shuts her up... temporarily. She grabs her suitcase, stomps across the highway, makes like she's gonna hitch her away outta here. That's not what I want. Why is she being so damn unreasonable? Why? I got other problems. I got a flat, left rear. Have to change it or we're going nowhere. So I'm changing the wheel, see this guy who's calling himself Leroy reflected in the hubcap, standing behind me, gun aimed at the back of my head. Why? Seems he discovered la pistola in the glove compartment... and now his mission is complete.
Or is it? He's having seconds 'bout pulling the trigger. Keeps glancing at Sam across the highway, like he's struggling with his new relationship. Some traffic comes and he has to put away his gun. Even offers to change the wheel, the dumb ass. It's too bad. I can sorta see his charm. Sorta. When he sees my 38 pointing at him in the hubcap, he goes for his gun... doesn't have a chance. Well, hey, that's the way it goes. Like he said himself, he was surrounded by loneliness and finality.
when is enough enough
What's with Sam? It's like I've shot her pet, not this asshole killer whose real name is Winston. Yeah, Winston -- so his I.D. in his wallet says. Yes, yes, yes! Finally old Jerry wins one! Yes!
Well it's a sad little drive back to the Hotel del Plaza. Sam just lies on the bed watching Mexican soaps. "You can't even speak Spanish," I say. So stuff it. "You don't need to understand the language to feel their pain," she says. I guess not. That's Sam.
Well, what's left to do? Arrange to get the pistol back to Margolese, settle things with asshole Bernie Nayman... take my sweetheart to the airport, get her back to the States. I even drive her to the airport. This is where we have our Big Moment. We've been through a lot. Agreed. She says to me, "When two people love one another, when is enough enough?" The answer is simple for me: "Never."
That's it, that's the Moment. She doesn't get on the Mexicana jet, she decides to stick it out with me. Yeah. Loves wins through in the end. Guess that damn pistol isn't cursed... or is it? We're not in the clear yet. No way. There're a few odds and ends to be settled... the Mexican way... Bernie the weasel, the Thief, the Mexican Rottweiler... Margolese. Make a good movie.... goddamnit, a great movie.
So I won't tell you the end. You go see the movie. She'll be Julia Roberts and I'll be Brad Pitt. No shit, we'll just improvise our way through it. Easy. Me and Sam are like glue... she's got that antique pistol strapped on the inside of her thigh... and I've started dreaming in color.
© LR 2/02
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