Before his recent fall from grace, Johnny Depp was one of the highest-paid and most popular actors in Hollywood, a second wind for his career that was built almost entirely off the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which also landed him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
For the next decade, Depp would go on to lend his talents to a string of mega budget studio blockbusters that featured no shortage of spectacular set pieces, but he’s never really made much of a dent in the action genre. Sure, he’s been in plenty of movies with action in them, but we’re talking old school shoot-em-ups that don’t revolve around mystical MacGuffins or CGI creatures.
Ironically, his last foray into that particular territory came just two months after Jack Sparrow exploded onto the scene, with Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico hitting theaters in September 2003. The sequel to Desperado, Antonio Banderas’ El Mariachi and Salma Hayek’s Carolina are on the hunt for Willem Dafoe’s cartel kingpin, but Depp’s corrupt CIA agent Sands is hot on their tail.
It’s a wonderfully self-deprecating turn from Depp, who pitches his performance just on the right side of self-awareness, with the dual-wielding Sands literally sporting a t-shirt that has ‘C.I.A’ emblazoned on it in huge letters. Given the star’s continued popularity, Once Upon a Time in Mexico looks destined for a decent position on Netflix’s most-watched list now that it’s available to stream on the platform.