(1995)3Derek ArmstrongIt was inevitable, but still lamentable, that Robert Rodriguez would gussy up his production values when given more than 7,000 dollars to rework his famously austere El Mariachi, which delivered ten times the unique punch as most actioners with a thousand times the budget. But with colleague and guest star Quentin Tarantino no doubt whispering in his ear, Desperado takes on a much more cartoonish tone than it needs to, cheapening his vision for the sake of a few gaudy gestures toward violent chic. Alternately considered a sequel and a remake, Desperado tries to be just as loud as El Mariachi was subtle, with bar patrons blasted across the room by shotguns and guitar cases that double as missile launchers. Of course, the cast has been upgraded as well, with Antonio Banderas in the lead and Salma Hayek giving her breakthrough performance as his love interest. Still, Rodriguez hasn't entirely forgotten his roots, giving Carlos Gallardo, the original mariachi, a small role as the smooth-as-silk hit man who totes said missile launcher. Because it's a showcase for stylish gunplay and crisp editing, Desperado has a loyal legion of fans apparently willing to overlook its shortcomings. For all the critical grousing about Rodriguez selling out, it is an exciting movie on the most basic level. It just could have been so much less. The collaboration with Tarantino would continue in 1996's From Dusk Till Dawn, in which Rodriguez would either prove that the visual bombast was his idea, or Tarantino would get him into it even deeper, depending on your slant on the subject.