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Film / The Mexican

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"By the grace of God or I don't know what, honey, you have managed to Forrest Gump your way through this. If we run now, we're going to be running the rest of our lives."

A 2001 crime comedy film directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.

Jerry Welbach (Pitt) is a basically decent guy with pretty poor driving skills. Through inattention at the wheel, he manages to crash his car into that of Arnold Margolese, a notorious gangster. Margolese just happened to have a body in the trunk of his car, leading to his arrest when the cops came to investigate the accident. Now Jerry is in his employ, at least until Margolese leaves prison... and much to the annoyance of his girlfriend, Samantha (Roberts).

After five years of running errands for Margolese, Jerry is almost out of his debt. He just has one job left, a simple delivery. All he has to do is fly to Mexico and pick up a very special gun, the eponymous Mexican, then bring it to Margolese. Unfortunately for Jerry, things are about to get complicated. The Mexican is a very valuable commodity, and Margolese isn't the only one who wants it. With multiple buyers hoping to secure the gun, Jerry finds himself on the run from everything. And Sam, eager to leave him behind, is taken as collateral by the notorious hitman Leroy (James Gandolfini). Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • During a phone call Jerry makes to Sam he says, "Ain't no sunshine when she's gone". In Notting Hill, the song, "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" plays in reference to Julia Roberts' character.
    • Frank tells Samantha and Winston that he's a postman whose business is pornography. James Gandofini previously starred in 8 MM, where a private detective whom embarks on a dark and dangerous journey into the porn industry to solve the mystery behind footage from a snuff movie which a teenage girl is slain by a mysterious masked killer.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: In two of the three tellings about the pistol, the Nobleman's son comes across as a creepy, unpleasant person.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite their constant bickering in each other's presence, Sam and Jerry get a couple of these moments towards the end of the film.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: The eponymous pistol killed its first victim this way when it was being test fired. This lead to the persistent rumor that the pistol was cursed.
  • Badass Driver: Leroy, who manages to make a Volkswagen Beetle look cool as he dodges traffic and big-rigs while abducting Sam.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: the real Leroy who's even credited as "Well-dressed black man."
  • Bad Guy Bar: Jerry walks into one to find Beck.
  • Beautiful Sexual Assault Victim: Discussed. Sam asks her kidnapper whether he plans to rape her, and he says "Not likely." When she asks whether it's because she's not attractive, he says she is attractive, and explains to her that rape is about hate toward someone, not attraction.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Sam can be very sweet (if a tiny bit of a drama queen when it comes to her relationship), but with Jerry's life on the line she has no problem pulling the trigger
  • Black Comedy: The film walks the line between this and Dramedy.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Sam walks around covered in the real Leroy's blood after Leroy shoots him at close range.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • Frank, though it's worth noting that it was because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and not because of his sexuality.
    • Winston/Leroy as well.
  • Butt-Monkey: Jerry gets treated like crap buy everybody and everything in the universe, and that is before he first gets the cursed gun.
  • The Cameo: Gene Hackman as Margolese.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Beck
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Mexican itself, in a literal example of this trope.
  • Citizenship Marriage: In the deleted scenes, Ted is blackmailed into marrying the daughter of the pawn shop owner he's handcuffed to for the purpose, although it seems to turn into a Love at First Sight moment when she actually shows up.
  • Convenient Misfire: The legend of "The Mexican" involves the gun undergoing so many of these (among other disasters) during its creation process that it's believed to be cursed.
  • Compartment Shot: Of Jerry putting a gun into the glovebox of his car.
  • Cool Car: Say it with me... Ellllllll Camiiiiiiinoooooooooooooo!
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Subverted. Winston kills the real Leroy, then tells Sam he's Leroy. But the real Leroy isn't actually dead, since he was wearing a Kevlar vest. Leroy comes back after them, but Winston kills him for real before he can reveal who he really is.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Jerry; it's what landed him into debt with Margolese in the first place. Also, at the end of the movie, Jerry purposefully crashes his car more than once, first to get the Mexican back and the second time just because Sam wouldn't stop talking.
  • Driven to Suicide: The gunsmith's daughter on the final telling of The Mexican's story. The man she loved, the gunsmith's assistant, had just been killed by the Jerkass general that she had been given to, and she didn't fired the gun to save him because she wasn't sure the thing would work. She's explicitly told that her heart was broken.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Leroy has one on his arm that says "Winston." Sam presses him on its meaning, but Leroy says it's the name of a guy he doesn't like. She assumes it's an ex. Actually, it's his real name.
  • Fiery Redhead: Sam
  • Flashback: We get several, as different people recount the origin of the Mexican.
  • Foreshadowing: Frank saying to Samantha and Winston "Guns don't kill people" foreshadows Frank's death when he is killed by the Well Dressed Black Man.
  • For Want of a Nail: Sam angrily notes that if Jerry had been a better driver, he never would have ran a traffic light for years ago, crashed into Margolese's car, and gotten them indebted to the gangster. Margolese himself notes to Jerry that this chain of events led to his incarceration, to his learning about the pistol and becoming determined to return it to its rightful owners, and indirectly to the deaths of his cellmate and his grandson, among others.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Consistently averted, with the deaths of Frank, Winston, Beck, and Margolese's cellmate in the backstory. all providing a decent amount of motivation and angst with Sam especially grieving over Winston even after finding out the truth, although Beck isn't mentioned too much.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Bernie.
  • Freudian Slip: In a deleted scene while being held at gunpoint by the hitman, Frank says he doesn't know when Leroy and Sam will be "black" instead of back, leading to a Mistaken for Racist argument which contributes to the real Leroy deciding to kill him.
  • Gayngster: Leroy. Well, Winston pretending to be Leroy.
  • He Knows Too Much: Averted, when Bernie is confronted by another mobster whose figured out what he's up to he simply tries to buy him off, and apparently succeeds.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Margolese was a ruthless gangster in the past, but is trying to recover the pistol out of sentient, and too repay a debt, and some of Bernie's dialogue implies that he's going to retire from the gangster lifestyle and shut down his organization.
    • The commentary suggests that this happened to Leroy the fake one anyway given the job he set out to do, and the bond he forms with Sam.
    • In a deleted scene, after his Citizenship Marriage Ted is shown to have left the mob, and provides some genuine aid and advice to Jerry.
  • Here We Go Again!: The film starts with Samantha and Jerry arguing (or more like Samantha having an "It's All About Me" angry girlfriend tirade and threatening to leave him if he goes to Mexico while Jerry points out that he cannot say no to Margolese's request — he will be killed if he refuses) and for the most part being angry about being dragged into the whole situation and blaming Jerry for it... and at the end of the film, once they have reaffirmed that Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other and are Riding into the Sunset, Jerry says one wrong thing and Samantha is going off about leaving him again.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Leroy
    Sam (to Leroy): You know, you're very sensitive for a cold-blooded killer.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: At the end Bernie, who has Sam in the trunk of his car, offers to return her safely to Jerry for the Mexican.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Poor Beck. He was drunk and just trying to pee against the wall of a building when a stray bullet from some folks shooting their guns in the air catches him straight in the forehead. This is why celebrating with gunfire isn't such a smart idea.
  • Innocently Insensitive: A relieved Jerry doesn't realize how much celebrating his victory over Winston is hurting Sam due to how close they'd gotten.
  • Ironic Echo: "Do you like sex and travel?"
  • Lima Syndrome: Leroy and Sam are actually really affectionate the entire movie... Right up until Jerry kills him.
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Jerry is responsible for fetching the Mexican and bringing it to Margolese. Unfortunately, while he gets the gun rather easily, he has a much harder time hanging onto it.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether or not the titular gun is cursed. A lot of bad things happen to Jerry from the moment he gets a hold of it, and its backstory is plagued with people who died because it appears to be it will only work correctly if the user has The Power of Love on his side. In the end, the gun (all of several hundred years old and never fired during that time) works perfectly and allows Sam to place a perfect kill shot on Bernie's chest when he threatens Jerry. Even the implication that there was a ring lodged in the gun's barrel, it still comes off as this trope.
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie constantly shifts between broad comedy and a whimsical score on Jerry's side of the story, and introspective conversations and shocking bursts of violence on Sam and Leroy's.
  • Never Suicide: Leroy and Sam get back to their hotel to find that Frank, the guy Leroy picked up the previous night, is splattered all over the pavement after seemingly leaping to his death. In reality, the real Leroy has come back to pick up Sam, and killed Frank when he found him in the room.
  • Non-Indicative Name: It's not about a person from Mexico, but a gun.
  • Noodle Incident: Jery bungled his previous One Last Job because Sam borrowed the car and lost the keys.
  • Number Two: Bernie
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Margolese outlives his grandson, and the father of his dead cellmate is in a similar situation.
  • Product Delivery Ordeal: Jerry, an errand boy for a notorious gangster, is tasked with one One Last Job—fly to Mexico and pick up an antique pistol, the eponymous Mexican, then bring it to his boss. However, Jerry's boss isn't the only one who wants it. His girlfriend is taken hostage on her way to Las Vegas, his contact in Mexico gets killed by an errant bullet, his car gets stolen with the gun (and the contact's body) inside it, he's briefly arrested by the police, his boss's second-in-command orders him killed, and he loses his passport. It all eventually culminates in a Mexican Standoff between Jerry and the mobster's second-in-command before he can finally turn over the gun.
  • Professional Killers: Leroy and Winston, who was impersonating Leroy
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Ted is a gangster, but a fairly jovial guy whose counting down toward retirement and just obeys orders even when he gets conflicting orders to help Jerry and kill him, he's just confused by the situation but rolling with it.
  • The Rashomon: The story of the gun is told several times. Each time is slightly different. On the final time it's said, it is mentioned that the gun's curse was placed by the assistant of the gunsmith that made the gun, because he loved the gunsmith's daughter, and miffed that she was being given to some Jerkass general, she made it so the gun wouldn't work unless it was being shot for the sake of The Power of Love.
  • Retirony: Zigzagged. Jerry is doing his One Last Job, while Ted only has a few more months of work left before he plans to retire to Boca Raton, and both live. Winston is hinted to be thinking about abandoning his violent life after Frank dies, but it's unclear if he's sincere or not, and either way he ends up killed by Jerry.
  • Revealing Reflection: Jerry is changing a flat tire and sees, in the reflection of the hubcap, his supposed ally Leroy pull a gun on him. Leroy ( actually Winston, hired to kill Jerry), not knowing he's been spotted, relents and goes to help with the tire. He then sees the reflection of Jerry pulling his own gun, who takes advantage of the opportunity and shoots Winston.
  • Scary Black Man: The hitman who goes after Sam and Leroy also known as the real Leroy.
  • South of the Border: Referenced when Jerry turns down a Chrysler at the car rental, just after arriving in Mexico, because he drives a Chrysler in the US and was hoping for something more Mexican. The renter jokes that he must believe Mexicans still ride horses. He eventually agrees to take the El Camino, which is also a US car but has a Spanish name. Afterward, the movie plays the trope completely straight, depicting the country as arid and undeveloped, with virtually no difference between the modern day and the retellings of the gun's origin.
  • El Spanish "-o": "I need a ride in your El Truck-o to the next town-o."
  • Stockholm Syndrome: A downplayed example. If you took a clip of Sam and Fake!Leroy, after the scene where Sam tries to escape from the bathroom window, you wouldn't think that she was being held hostage at all. Sam even encourages Leroy to pick up a guy at a diner and they travel with him. Without Sam ever mentioning the fact that she's being held for ransom for the Mexican. However, Sam is also very comfortable around Leroy due to the fact that she is not in any kind of danger, and has no problem speaking her mind to him, which is something people with Stockholm Syndrome don’t do. A person with the actual condition would not risk asking their captor if they are gay.
  • Straight Gay: Considering he's played by James Gandolfini and exhibits no mannerisms (apart from checking out one guy in a diner), Leroy qualifies.
  • Suicide by Cop: The directors commentary claims that Winston's death had aspects of this as a result of Character Development.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Jerry says he met Leroy one and he seemed fairly normal, making it hard for him to decide whether or not his hype as a Psycho for Hire was exaggerated or not as part of the way of obscuring Winston posing as Leroy.
  • Together in Death: The gunsmith's daughter and the gunsmith's assistant. It was the only time the gun worked right (other than Samantha shooting Bernie) in the hundred-plus years since it's been made.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Ted, who is only out for himself and was setting Jerry up for a hit
    • Bernie Nayman, Margolese's second in command while he's in prison, also counts. Nayman is after the Mexican for himself, and doesn't care whether Jerry lives or dies, just as long as he gets the gun.
  • With or Without You
    Samantha: I'm going [to Las Vegas] with or without you, Jerry. What's it gonna be?
  • Work Off the Debt: Why Jerry is working for Margolese; he accidentally got him arrested and is stuck making it up to him.