The swashbuckling folk hero of early California trains a younger man to take his place.
Rated PG-13 for some intense action and violence. A character shoots himself rather than be captured. His head is severed, off screen. Later the head is shown floating in a jar of alcohol, from which a character drinks. (A severed hand is also shown in a jar.) The violence is otherwise fairly bloodless. Banderas and Zeta-Jones engage in a sexually charged sword duel, in which he slashes off her top (her breasts remain covered). While the lead characters are “Mexican”, Banderas is a Spaniard and Hopkins and Zeta-Jones are both Welsh. “The people” are nameless extras who raise their hands over their heads and make unintelligible crowd noise.
Be careful, Señorita. There are dangerous men about.
Your children will likely ask you for help in understanding the geopolitics of 1800s California that drive the movie’s plot, but at a certain point you may feel lost yourself. That said, the movie makes it pretty clear who the bad guys are. An old-school Hollywood actioner, with practical stuntwork, gratuitous horsemanship, and thrilling, theatrical swordplay. Screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio would go on to pen the Pirates of the Caribbean series and 2013’s The Lone Ranger. Hopkins brings a light touch to the aging Zorro, and Banderas and Zeta-Jones give off nearly radioactive levels of movie star charisma. (One only wishes Zeta-Jones could have done the role with less makeup.) The big climax is kind of an editing mess, with confusing leaps in temporal and spatial logic, but it hardly makes a difference. In the end our heros save the day. —