The Mexican

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The Mexican
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Produced by Christopher Ball
John Baldecchi
Lawrence Bender
Written by J.H. Wyman
Starring Brad Pitt
Julia Roberts
James Gandolfini
J. K. Simmons
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Darius Wolski
Editing by Craig Wood
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures
Release dates March 2, 2001 (2001-03-02)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $57 million
Box office $147,845,033 (total)[1]

The Mexican is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, with a plot that is a mixture of romantic comedy, thriller and road movie.

The script was originally intended to be filmed as an independent production without major motion picture stars, but Roberts and Pitt, who had for some time been looking for a project they could do together, learned about it and decided to make it. The movie was then advertised as a typical romantic comedy star vehicle, somewhat misleadingly, as the script does not focus solely on the Pitt/Roberts relationship and the two share relatively little screen time together. Ultimately, the film earned $66.8 million at the U.S. box office.[2]


The story follows Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt) as he travels through Mexico to find a valuable antique gun, The Mexican, and smuggle it into the United States. Five years earlier, Welbach had caused a traffic accident in which he hit the car of local mobster Arnold Margolese (Gene Hackman), who was jailed for five years after the police searched his car following the crash, finding someone tied up in his trunk. In compensation for the jail time, Welbach has been sent on various errands by Margolese's second-in-command, Bernie Nayman (Bob Balaban). Retrieving the gun will be his final errand. Welbach has a girlfriend, Samantha (Julia Roberts), whom he argues with constantly and who leaves Jerry prior to the trip over his lack of commitment to their relationship.

Jerry arrives in Mexico and makes his way to pick up Beck (David Krumholtz), the Margolese employee now in possession of the gun. There, a drunk Beck tells Jerry about the gun's history as a suicide weapon used as part of a jilted love-triangle between a woman, a nobleman, and the son of the gunsmith who forged the weapon, as well as its curse to misfire. Jerry helps Beck to his car, only for the man to be killed by celebratory gunfire from a nearby festival. Panicked but determined, Jerry buries the body and then calls Bernie to report on the situation, only for his vehicle to be stolen while he makes the call, the gun still inside. Jerry steals another vehicle and attempts to follow.

Back in the U.S., Samantha is on her way to Las Vegas when a black gunman (Sherman Augustus) tries to violently kidnap her, only to be shot by another gunman (James Gandolfini) who introduces himself as Leroy. Leroy explains that he's been sent by Margolese to hold Samantha, both to ensure Jerry brings the gun back as well as to protect her from others who might use her as leverage. With no choice, Samantha accompanies Leroy to Las Vegas.

In Mexico, Jerry manages to recover the gun and his car, but a police officer stops him and notices the large bloodstain in the passenger seat. The officer arrests Jerry and confiscates the gun, releasing him a few hours later without the weapon. Following him, Jerry realizes he is working with the car thieves and that another faction is vying for the weapon. He calls Bernie to report this.

In the U.S., Sam and Leroy slowly strike up a friendship, cemented when Sam convinces the gay gunman to chat up an attractive Postal Service employee at a casino restaurant, leading to a one-night fling. The next morning Leroy and Sam share breakfast, only for the black gunman to sneak into their room while they are out. Finding them gone and the Postal employee instead, the gunman throws him out the balcony, killing him. A distraught Leroy heads to the room, fends off the other gunman and kills him with a shot to the head. Shortly after he gets a call telling him to head to Mexico with Sam.

Meanwhile Jerry has fended off an attempt on his life by Ted (J.K. Simmons), a Margolese employee supposedly sent to help him, but has lost his passport in the process, leaving him unable to return. Bernie is baffled by Ted's betrayal, and tells Jerry to pick up Sam and Leroy at the local airport and give the gun to Leroy. Jerry arrives, ready to finally hand off the gun, but on seeing the two abruptly hides the gun in the car and tells Leroy it is located in a nearby town. On the drive there Jerry and Sam argue, leading to a blowout. While Jerry changes the tire Leroy prepares to shoot him, only for Jerry to kill him first with a hidden firearm. Jerry explains to a horrified Sam that he met Leroy once before—the real Leroy—and that he was a black man; the man Sam knew as Leroy was an impostor who would have killed them the moment he had the gun. Saddened, Sam goes with Jerry to a nearby town where they stay for the night.

The next day Jerry gives the gun to Sam for safekeeping, then heads out to call Bernie and is ambushed by the car thieves from earlier, who knock him out. He awakes in a large villa surrounded by men he takes for enemies, until their employer arrives in person: Arnold Margolese. Margolese reveals that Bernie has betrayed him and wants to sell the gun for an enormous profit, whereas Margolese wants to return the weapon to its rightful owner: the direct descendent of the gunsmith, a relative of someone Margolese spent time in prison with. After hearing this, as well as the full, tragic story of the gun's history as a wedding present and suicide weapon, Jerry agrees to hand over the weapon.

Jerry returns to his hotel and finds Bernie waiting for him, holding Sam captive in the trunk of his car. Jerry informs him that only Sam knows where the weapon is. Bernie opens the trunk and finds an angry Sam pointing the antique gun at him. Bernie dismisses the threat since the weapon holds only one remaining hundred-year-old bullet, but Sam pulls the trigger anyway. The weapon fires, fatally striking Bernie in the throat and releasing a brass engagement ring, part of the weapon's design as a wedding gift. Jerry comforts Sam, then gives the weapon to the gunsmith's descendent; as a token of gratitude, the man indicates that Jerry should keep the engagement ring. Jerry does, proposing to Sam and slipping it over her finger when she accepts. The two head back to the U.S., happy, but still constantly arguing with each other.



The Mexican made use of Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico, as a film location, as well as various areas in Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California.

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #1 at the North American box office making $20,108,829 USD in its opening weekend, although the film had a 39% decline in earnings the following week, it was enough to keep the film at the top spot for another week.


It holds a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus states that "Though The Mexican makes a good attempt at originality, its ponderous length makes it wear out its welcome. Also, those looking forward to seeing Roberts and Pitt paired up may end up disappointed, as they are kept apart for most of the movie."[3]


  1. ^ "The Mexican (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  2. ^ "The Mexican (2001) – Box office / business". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  3. ^ "The Mexican". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 

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