by Eva Hall
I'm not a big Julia Roberts fan -- a fact that has more to do with the insecure and emotionally needy characters she often gets to play, than her ability as an actress. In The Mexican, Roberts' character Sam has little else going for her other than a fuzzy plan to move from Southern California to Las Vegas to become a Black Jack dealer and then a millionaire. Great plan.
In all fairness, though, her shallow and ignorant boyfriend Jerry (Brad Pitt) has absolutely nothing going for him, except one last job for the mob: He's supposed to go to Mexico and find a cursed, but beautiful, handcrafted pistol and bring it back. In quick succession, Sam drops Jerry, Jerry heads to Mexico and Sam heads toward Vegas, but before she makes it very far, she's kidnapped by Leroy (James Gandolfino), a wonderfully complex, gay hit man who totally steals the show during the rest of the movie.
The peculiar thing about this film is that much celebrated stars Roberts and Pitt end up just kind of being there, while Gandolfino -- and an amazing cast of colorful, personable Mexican sidekicks -- is the one who gives the star performance. Director Gore Verbinski handles the entwining tales well, but this movie still fails to become anything more than a pleasant diversion.