Like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II, Desperado is a sequel that was created thanks to the original’s huge success, yet surpasses the original in every way possible. While the original was more of a practice test, Desperado is a full-fledged film with interesting characters, a great Western style, and offers a ton of visual fun. This is the film where Robert Rodriguez’s talent truly began to shine, partially thanks to the presence of his new friend, and producer, Quentin Tarantino.
It’s been several years since the events of El Mariachi, the original film, and the nameless Mariachi has become something of a local legend since then. The mariachi’s quest to kill everyone involved with death of Domino, his original love interest, is coming to an end as only one member of the original gang remains alive. With vengeance in his sights and new friends by his side, the mariachi sets out to finally end the cause of all of his misery.
Character-wise, the film is much, *much* better than El Mariachi. The characters still aren’t particularly deep, but they’re interesting and likable enough to capture the audience’s attention. Harking back to the days of Sergio Leone, the film believes that you don’t need to know everything about a character in order for him to be interesting (ala The Man With No Name). We don’t need to know everything about these characters, and the less we know is better. I’d go so far as to say that El Mariachi was simply the “intro” to this movie, as it feels far more fleshed-out and well-written.
Visually, this film is absolutely terrific. Everything plays out fantastically onscreen, with the action sequences especially looking brilliant. It’s fast, crisp, and works on technical and entertaining levels. Rodriguez obviously had many of these action sequences planned out in advance, and it shows really well with how terrific everything onscreen looks.
If there are any major faults with the film, the first would be that it’s a “guys’ movie”. I usually hate that term, as it implies guys and girls can’t possibly like the same types of movies, but it’s extremely obvious that the male demographic is this movie’s major audience. From the cliche “cool guys don’t look at explosions” to the sexy, intelligent, and virtually perfect girlfriend, the movie doesn’t offer too many compliments to women. That isn’t to say that a woman can’t enjoy this film, but it’s far less likely than with most movies.
Also, the film’s script and major antagonist leave a lot to be desired. Sometimes, the film’s screenplay can be kinda cheesy – such as the scene where the main antagonist threatens to kill his henchmen because they don’t know his phone number. There are further examples, but I’m certain that these can be found with a quick Google search. As for the film’s villain, he just isn’t that gripping in his role. When compared with the hero of the movie, the villain comes off as weak as doesn’t seem to ever produce any great threat.
Regardless, Desperado is a very fun and action-packed movie. With a great sense of style, fantastic visuals, and interesting characters, the film’s more entertaining than it is intellectual – but those types of movies are enjoyable as well.