The Mexican

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The Mexican
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGore Verbinski
Produced byChristopher Ball
John Baldecchi
Lawrence Bender
Written byJ.H. Wyman
StarringJulia Roberts
Brad Pitt
James Gandolfini
Music byAlan Silvestri
CinematographyDarius Wolski
Edited byCraig Wood
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release date
  • March 2, 2001 (2001-03-02)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$57 million
Box office$147.8 million[1]

The Mexican is a 2001 American adventure comedy film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. Its plot is a mixture of different genres.


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 prickly second-in-command, Bernie Nayman (Bob Balaban). Retrieving the gun will be his final errand. Welbach has a girlfriend, Samantha Barzel (Julia Roberts), with whom he argues 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 drunken 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. While Beck is urinating, a bullet from celebratory gunfire strikes him in the head.

Jerry thinks Beck is passed out and carries his body to the car, only to finally notice he is dead. While on the phone reporting what happened, his car is stolen with the gun and Beck's body.

Meanwhile, a hitman tries to abduct Samantha, but another hitman, Leroy (James Gandolfini), shoots him and abducts her. Leroy tells her he was hired to keep her hostage to make sure that Jerry finishes his job. It is then revealed that Leroy is gay, which doesn't bother Samantha. They pick up a postal worker named Frank (Michael Cerveris), who then has a relationship with Leroy.

Jerry tracks down his car. He forces the thief to take him to Beck's body. After burying Beck, Jerry shoots the thief in the foot as punishment.

On his way to the airport, Jerry is stopped by a police officer who arrests him for the blood that is all over the seat of his car. The officer releases Jerry but keeps the gun. He gives it to a pawn shop owner, Joe (Castulo Guerra), to sell.

The original hitman (his hand now bandaged from where Leroy shot him) follows Leroy and Sam to Las Vegas and kills Frank to make it look like a suicide. Leroy kills him for throwing Frank out of the hotel window in an act of vengeance, and flees with Samantha.

Jerry's friend and colleague, Ted (J.K. Simmons), arrives to help him. But Jerry soon learns that Ted was supposed to kill him. The two go to the pawnshop and get the gun. Jerry then handcuffs Ted to Joe and leaves. Jerry then finds out he accidentally grabbed Ted's Passport and tries to retrieve his own, but Ted has already fled.

When Jerry doesn't arrive in Las Vegas as planned, Leroy and Sam fly to Mexico to find him. Jerry drives to pick them up at the airport. Jerry intentionally crashes the car over an argument with Sam. Leroy finds the gun in the glove box and intends to shoot Jerry, but Jerry kills him first. He then tells Sam that Leroy was a black man (the original hitman) and finds out that "Leroy" was one of Nayman's men named Winston Baldry. Nayman's plan was to make it look like Jerry double-crossed Margolese.

While waiting at the hotel for Jerry's passport, the thieves who stole his car kidnap Jerry. They take him to Margolese who was just released from prison. He tells Jerry that he didn't double-cross him. It was Nayman who wanted to sell the pistol to the highest bidder. Margolese wanted to return the gun to the father of a man he shared a prison cell with—a gunsmith, who is the great-grandson of the gunsmith who made the gun. Jerry agrees to give him the gun.

Meanwhile, Samantha gets kidnapped by Nayman in order to get the pistol. When Jerry and the thieves return to the hotel, Nayman is there with Sam in the trunk of his car. Jerry tells him that only Sam knows where the gun is. After opening the trunk, she pulls the gun on Nayman, resulting in a Mexican standoff. Samantha gets the upper hand and kills him with the pistol.

Jerry asks Samantha to marry him. As they drive away, she asks him to tell her the story of the gun one more time. While he does, she interrupts him to correct how he pronounces "nobleman." They continue to argue as they drive toward the horizon.




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, decided to make it, following Roberts' introduction and encouragement of the project to Pitt. Roberts also suggested the casting of James Gandolfini,[2][3] in what is regarded as one of his greatest roles.[4]


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. Aeropuerto internacional Adolfo Lopez Mateos Toluca, Estado de México was used as well.


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. Ultimately, the film earned $147.8 million worldwide.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The film holds a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 133 critics. 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."[5]

"The scenes between Roberts and Gandolfini make the movie special. ... Their dialogue scenes are the best reason to see the movie."[6]

"Pitt and Roberts are good too – maybe better like this than if they were together. ... If it had been a Pitt/Roberts two-hander, there wouldn't have been room for Gandolfini's wonderful character, and that would have been a shame."[7]

"'The Mexican' is sporadically entertaining. It works when Gandolfini is on screen; when he leaves, he takes the movie with him. ... From here, director Gore Verbinski, intercuts between two road movies, one of which (the one with Pitt) is downright boring".[8]

"Roberts and Pitt are generally terrific. In 'The Mexican' they are horrid. ... Gandolfini is a star on the rise. His work in The Mexican is solid. Frankly, he's the only bright spot in this dark and pointless movie."[9]

"Moviegoers who have seen The Mexican aren't coming out of cinemas talking about the romantic chemistry between Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. They're talking about the presence of tough guy James Gandolfini in the unlikely role of a gay hit man named Leroy."[10]


  1. ^ a b "The Mexican (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  2. ^ Louis B. Hobson, Ryder on the storm. "Stargazing", Ottawa Sun Showcase, March 18, 2001, p. 3.
  3. ^ Cindy Pearlman, Why the fuss, Gandolfini wonders. Ottawa Citizen, February 28, 2001, p. F9.
  4. ^ Tshepo Mokoena, James Gandolfini: five best moments. The Guardian, November 14, 2014. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  5. ^ "The Mexican". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  6. ^ "'Mexican' crosses the border with wit, style" (March 2, 2001) Cedar Rapids Gazette
  7. ^ "Roberts, Pitt: Is It a Waste of Screen Time?" (March 2, 2001) Doylestown Intelligencer
  8. ^ "Star power doesn't save 'The Mexican'" (March 2, 2001) Titusville Herald
  9. ^ "'The Mexican' goes from bad to worse" (March 8, 2001) Walla Walla Union Bulletin
  10. ^ "From adulterous mob boss to gay hit man: Tough-guy Gandolfini praised for The Mexican" (Mar 8, 2001) Edmonton Journal

External links[edit]