The Legend of Zorro

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Time Out says


SHHH! DUMB'S THE WORD Zeta-Jones and Banderas make a stealthy exit.

Everything in this belated, bloated, deeply unnecessary sequel to 1998's The Mask of Zorro is pushed just past the point of ridiculousness: the back-flipping stunts, the spitty lip locks, the feisty guitar strums on the soundtrack. Given that the central concept already concerns a masked heroic swordsman who often talks to his horse, that means the film is supersilly—mucho even.

Sometimes that can be a pleasure. Here it's not—a shame since the leads, Antonio Banderas as Mexico's mythic "fox" and Catherine Zeta-Jones as his hotcha bride, have both shown themselves to be perfectly capable of tongue-in-cheek foolishness. Unfortunately, they're hamstrung by a perfect storm of annoying sequel conventions, including the introduction of a precocious tyke (Adrian Alonso as their son), some phony-feeling marital tensions and a lip-curling French villain (Sewell) who, in this case, plans to plunge America into chaos by arming the Confederate army with nitroglycerin. (That scheme, or variations thereof, could also be added to the annoying-sequel-conventions list.)

As this summer's deft Mr. & Mrs. Smith proved, few of the above crutches are necessary to hit pay dirt, provided the director places his confidence in the actors' chemistry. The Legend of Zorro's Martin Campbell (on board to direct the next Bond vehicle, Casino Royale) may have had that strategy in mind too; judging from the evidence on screen, he wasn't granted nearly enough face time with his handsome duo, only their stunt doubles.—Joshua Rothkopf

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