Directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, Bob Balaban and J.K. Simmons.

Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt) is a guy to whom Murphy's Law applies every day of his purgatorial life. Nearing the end of a five-year working debt to the local mob, his life is further complicated by his tempestuous relationship with nagging girlfriend Sam (Julia Roberts). The latter wants a ring on her finger and a new life in Las Vegas; Jerry is less decisive.

Jerry's problems really begin when he is forced to choose between Las Vegas with Sam, or going to Mexico for his boss to retrieve the antique pistol of the movie's title. Refusing to go to Las Vegas means an end to the relationship, refusing to go to Mexico means death: Mexico it is, then. When Sam is kidnapped by the mob as "insurance", the film alternates between Jerry's mishaps in Mexico, and Sam's travails with her kidnapper, a gay hit man played by James Gandolfini.

'The Mexican' is one of the many US films that have you wondering 'what if?' long before the closing credits roll. After a promising opening half-hour, the narrative suddenly veers off on some ill-advised subplots, and the initially solid script rapidly descends into saccharine sentimentality. The final concern for the audience is not how the film will end (you won't care), but when?

Director Verbinski once managed to elicit a winning performance from a rodent ('Mouse Hunt'), so why does he fail miserably with Pitt and the queen of Hollywood, Roberts? Well, perhaps the mouse understood the concept of 'less is more'. Pitt's usual annoying quirks are given free reign here, but it's Roberts who is more nauseating than bad tequila.

All in all, 'The Mexican' is dull, unfunny and criminally drawn out. Even the eponymous pistol is a disappointment.

Tom Grealis