A low-life bandit and an I.R.A. explosives expert rebel against the government and become heroes of the Mexican Revolution.A low-life bandit and an I.R.A. explosives expert rebel against the government and become heroes of the Mexican Revolution.A low-life bandit and an I.R.A. explosives expert rebel against the government and become heroes of the Mexican Revolution.
Many reviewers have said how strong the Leone formula is and I won't be able to add much to their words but for me this is a fine film mainly because it takes apart yet another of the cinema myths of the noble revolutionary fighters and has a fascinating thread of political commentary running all the way through it. It doesn't open this way though, rather it starts with Leone's usual brand of wit and confrontation between John and Juan and it all feels like it will be similar (and just as good) to some of Leone's other westerns. However, about an hour in, it becomes more interesting thanks to the rather shocking portrayal of the revolution (on both sides) and the ripping into the ideas behind it. It only adds to the basic plot and, when it becomes the main focus, the film is stronger for it, although Leone's Marxist views may be a little hard to swallow for some viewers in the west. That said, it does still work as a typical Leone western and fans of his will still love this film.
The cast is good but you gotta wonder how those accents would have been mauled if the film had not been as roundly good certainly Coburn's attempts at an Irish brogue are not the most convincing I've heard. Other than that though he is good in the lead role, coping well with making an IRA character "likeable" without damaging the cynicism and regret that exists within him. His flashback scenes are convincing even if it is not that important to the main thrust of the film. Steiger is less serious at first but develops his character well, despite having to cope with a "road to Damascus" moment as part of it. He is consistently amusing as a character and he does tend to dominate his scenes to good effect. Support is fine but really these two men are the film and they do it very well, coping with the laughs, tension and political commentary equally well.
Overall, a typically strong film from Leone that has all his usual formula touches as well as plenty of commentary of value. The direction and use of music are as good as always and the cast cope well with the demands of the script. Reviewers who have taken this as an attack on John Ford's idea of the revolutionary Irishman are perhaps a little off since the film only confirms Ford's usual pointing out of "printing the myth" but it still has plenty of value and interesting political commentary.
- bob the moo
- Jun 6, 2005