The Mask of Zorro
Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by Martin Campbell
If you're thinking that Antonio Banderas, born in Spain, is the ideal Zorro — the Latin folk hero who donned a mask and drew his sword to free Mexico from Spanish rule — think again. Anthony Hopkins, born in South Wales, has the role of Don Diego de la Vega, the Spanish nobleman who led a secret life as Zorro. Huh? It's just one of the peculiar surprises in this lavishly produced swashbuckler that should have been far more entertaining.
Banderas plays Alejandro Murieta, a common thief who ends up in Zorro drag. To shorten a long story: Don Diego has rotted in jail for twenty years thanks to Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), the villain who has also raised Don Diego's daughter, Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), as his own. Naturally, Don Diego is pissed. He escapes from prison, hooks up with Alejandro and trains the stud to replace him as Zorro.
It's not easy. Alejandro needs a makeover, which requires lessons in manners as well as swordplay. Hopkins, while never convincingly Latin, hams it up royally. And Banderas cuts a sexy romantic figure, especially when he crosses swords with Elena — newcomer Zeta-Jones needs no lessons in being gorgeous — and turns the battle into a delicious game of strip-fencing.
What a shame, then, that director Martin Campbell (Golden Eye) bogs down the fun stuff with subplots about a gold mine and Don Rafael's plan to buy California from Mexico. The stunts are a kick, except when it's indefensibly obvious that we're watching stunt doubles. And the constant crosscutting from Banderas to Hopkins — was it contractual that each has equal screen time? — is needlessly distracting. Banderas and Hopkins prove that there's life in the Z-boy yet, but by leaving in the dull patches, the filmmakers may find audiences catching zzzzzs in ways they never intended.
star ratingCBS Films
star ratingRelativity Media
star ratingOpen Road Films
star ratingWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
star ratingThe Weinstein Company