The Legend of Zorro
Dir. Martin Campbell. 2005.
PG. 129mins. Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell.
There's a reason most superheroes aren't family men: The idea seems to lead only to Incredibles-style jokes about balancing crime fighting with PTA meetings. So once Zorro got the girl at the end of 1998's Mask of Zorro, that should have signaled the fade-out. Or if the story were to continue in a sequel, then Banderas and Zeta-Jones ought to camp it up as an injustice-fighting duo.
Instead, this long-delayed sequel saddles them with an annoyingly spunky brat, then breaks up the marriage for the sole purpose of dragging the masked swordsman through "comic" action and overwritten narrative twists as he tries to win her back. Just to make things trickier, she's hooked up with a Frenchman involved in a nefarious plot to topple the American government (Sewell, sporting the most unconvincing and sporadic French accent in decades).
The script features a bizarre topical twist: The baddies are a group of aristocrats united under the motto One World (an obvious quotation of the right-wing charge against the U.N.) who resort to terrorism against the U.S. to stop the democratic impulse. So, U.N. equals terrorism. John Bolton will love this. We could stomach the weird political subtext if this movie weren't so goddamn long—it feels flabby from the stunt-leads-to-stunt-followed-by-stunt opening fight sequence. From that inauspicious beginning, things go from drawn out to bloated. Someone should have borrowed Zorro's sword for some judicious cutting.—Hank Sartin