The latest entry in the “El Mariachi” series is out. Is it worth your time and money? Read below to find out! After spending the last three years working on the “Spy Kids” films, writer/director Robert Rodriguez returns to the character that made him famous – El Mariachi. His latest entry, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, should greatly please fans of the franchise, as well as lure in new fans due to a spectacular performance by series newbie Johnny Depp.”Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, like “Desperado” before it, is as much a re-make as it is a sequel. There are new plot developments, and new characters, but there are also shared elements with the previous two films. Antonio Banderas returns as the El Mariachi – a legendary gun fighter and musician who’s out to avenge the death of his family at the hands of a criminal (played this time by a gleefully evil Willem Dafoe). Complicating matters is Sands, a corrupt CIA agent who wants El Mariachi to take part in a political uprising (played by a wonderfully hammy Johnny Depp). Also flitting in and out of the film are henchman Billy (a Chihuahua-toting Mickey Rourke), cold-blooded killer Cucuy (Danny Trejo) and El Mariachi’s knife-wielding main squeeze Carolina (Selma Hayek).The story is a hodge-podge jumble of half-formed ideas that never really comes together as a coherent whole – but it hardly matters. The emphasis is on action, and Rodriguez and crew deliver in spades. Whether it be a standard bar brawl, a shoot-out between criminals and gun-toting guitarists, or a large scale riot, the action here is simply breathtaking. Objects explode, bullets fly, and bodies soar through the air with an almost balletic grace. Rodriguez stages his action sequences with a visceral sense of movement and humor, creating a dance of violence and laughter that truly must be seen to be believed. It’s as if he saw the high-water mark set by directors like John Woo and said “I can do better”.Another thing that sets Rodriguez apart from many of his Hollywood counterparts is his attention to character. While action is priority one, making its participants larger than life is a close second. El Mariachi is presented as a legend – a hero who emerges from the shadows to avenge those who have lost their lives to evil men. Banderas nails the role, giving El Mariachi a sense of righteous anger with more than a twinkle of goodness behind his eyes. Also in top form is Depp as Agent Sands. If there were any doubt as to Depp’s amazing talent at character portrayal, this movie combined with his hilarious turn in “Pirates of the Caribbean” should put them to rest. Sands, as played by Depp, is an soft-spoken wiseass just barely on the right side of sanity. He easily steals every scene he’s in. “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” is a great addition to the action/adventure genre. It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and is a pleasure to behold from the first frame to the closing credits.