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ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(2003), R

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
September 12, 2003
15 out of 100

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UPDATED September 15, 2003
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2003), R -- ...Sometimes funny, sometimes not funny.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Columbia Pictures Corporation, Dimension Films, Troublemaker Studios
Distribution (US): Columbia Pictures, Dimension Films , Miramax Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Director(s): Robert Rodriguez
Producer(s): Elizabeth Avellan, Carlos Gallardo, Sue Jett, Tony Mark, Robert Rodriguez, Luz María Rojas
Written by/Screenplay: Robert Rodriguez
Cinematography/Camera: Robert Rodriguez
Music: Robert Rodriguez
Film Editing: Robert Rodriguez
Casting: Mary Vernieu
Production Design: Robert Rodriguez
Art Direction: Melo Hinojosa
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

Once Upon a Time in Mexico presents three major subplots: a military overthrow of the Mexican government; a drug lord making changes to his face to elude the CIA; a presidential assassination.

El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) is the bandito supreme serving to tie all three subplots together. Mariachi is feared by all and is an accomplished guitar player. Mariachi was so enthralled by both avocations -- violence and guitar playing -- that he developed weapons from guitars. [Prov. 3:31-32] Most were shooting or exploding devices but one was a flame thrower.

But Mariachi has retired to mourn the loss of his wife, Carolina (Salma Hayek) and daughter to the warlord General who is trying to overthrow of the Mexican government. Jesus warns that those who live by the sword will die by the sword [Matt. 26:52]. If this movie scenario were real, Carolina and their daughter died because of Mariachi's life "by the sword." They died not because of the will of God but by the will of the General who has freedom of choice as do we all ... a freedom given to us by God who will not take it away for any reason. He does not want puppets. Still, maybe being the fault of your family's death by one's evil deeds could be worse than death by the sword. [Ps. 141:4; Ps. 1:6]

Though Mariachi is retired, rogue CIA agent Sands (Johnny Depp) hires Mariachi to help launch the military coup and thwart the plans of drug lord Barillo (Willem Dafoe) and his hit man, Billy (Mickey Rourke) to kill the Mexican president.

Some comic relief and acrobatic prowess are provided to combat the saturation of violence and killing. In flashbacks (the only places Carolina is alive) Mariachi finds himself chained to Carolina in a hotel room as the bad guys come for them. Shackled together, they swing down from the hotel room window from outcropping to outcropping, he hanging on to something while she swings down to the next outcropping, then she hanging on and he swinging down, repeating the cascadings until they plop to the ground.

There's even some Han Solo(tm) of Star Wars tactics. While Sands sits at a table to barter in crime [Hab. 2:6, 2:12], he uses a prosthetic of his left arm to hold, for example, an eating utensil while his real arm holds a gun at whomever sits at the other side of the table. Sands even adds a little comic relief as he barks at henchman Cucuy (Danny Trejo) "Are you a MexiCAN or a MexiCAN'T." And some of Bandera's comic style is not left in Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2:The Island of Lost Dreams and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. He brings some of it to buffer the violence of Once Upon a time in Mexico. Eva Mendes of 2Fast 2Furious serves well as Ajedrez, Sand's lady desperado. One of the lighter scenes, but still embedded in violence, was a portable piano or bar on wheels being rolled out of the way before a saloon duel then back again when it was over. Don't shoot the piano player/bartender, I guess.

Sometimes funny, sometimes not funny. While the movie was light-hearted in some ways, it was downright ugly in others. Morally ugly. The uses of the most foul of the foul words doubled the uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Col. 3:8]. God's name in vain both with and without the four letter expletive appeared almost half as many times as the most foul of the foul words [Deut. 5:11]. Killings were brutal, cold and unremorseful and threats with and use of firearms to control were rampant [Job 34:22 ]. Sexual immorality came more as innuendo, suggestions, references, one instance of ghosting of female anatomy though translucent clothing, multiple instances of dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure and thong nudity of strip bar dancers than anything particularly bold, but there were enough of them to drag the score down into the "R" realm. [Mark 7:21] The listing in the Findings/Scoring section will reveal all that was noted. Please consider it seriously before deciding whether to see this highly publicized movie.

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If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Prov. 3:31-32 Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.
  • Matt. 26:52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
  • Ps. 141:4 Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.
  • Ps. 1:6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
  • Hab. 2:6 "Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, " `Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?'
  • Hab. 2:12 Woe to him who builds a city [a place guarded by waking or a watch] with bloodshed and establishes a town [a collective such as a city, mob, gang or regime] by crime! [The 'city' or 'town' could even be wealth.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it.]
  • Job 34:22 There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide. [From His eyes.]
  • Mark 7:21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.


    Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • gunfire to kill/attempted murder, repeatedly, frequently
  • firearm threats, repeatedly, many to face/head
  • fighting, repeatedly
  • explosion deaths
  • images of death
  • gunfire injuries/gore, repeatedly, frequently
  • hiring a murder
  • traffic wreck with gas truck, major explosion
  • gunfire deaths (battle/warfare), repeatedly, frequently
  • bullfight with repeated gorings
  • impersonating FBI
  • planning murder (whole story)
  • death by bus
  • death by fire
  • order to mutilate
  • invasive medical procedure, twice, once to gouge out eyes
  • gun butt to head
  • coercing child to kill a man
  • beating injury, repeatedly
  • abduction

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • seven uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • 15 uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • seeking revenge

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • man and woman in bed together
  • anatomical humor and references
  • dressing to maximize the female for and/or skin exposure, repeatedly
  • thong nudity, repeatedly
  • ghosting of female upper anatomy through translucent clothing
  • open mouth kissing
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts
  • firearm threat to crotch

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • bar
  • booze
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness, repeatedly
  • "I don't think. I drink."
  • dart to forehead to drug into unconsciousness
  • forced injections
  • voluntary injection

    Offense to God (O)
  • celebrating the dead
  • five uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and once without

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • gunfire murder, repeatedly, frequently
  • blade murder, two
  • murder by choking

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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