''El Mariachi'' (1992), ''Desperado'' (1995), ''Once Upon a Time in Mexico'' (2003)

Antonio Banderas, Desperado
Credit: Desperado: Rick Torres

Antonio Banderas made our list of favorite movie hitmen

PLAYED BY Carlos Gallardo/Antonio Banderas

THE LOWDOWN Mistaken for a similarly black-clad hitman, the wandering guitarist (played by Gallardo in ”Mariachi” and Banderas, pictured, in the two sequels) becomes one out of necessity. The first two movies find him embroiled in one-man feuds against Mexican crimelords; the third entangles him in an international conspiracy set in motion by a rogue CIA agent (Johnny Depp).

WEAPON OF CHOICE El Mariachi packs a variety of pistols, shotguns, and machine guns, but our favorites are the firearms built into his guitar case (in ”Desperado”) and his guitar (in ”Mexico”).

REDEEMING VIRTUE Aside from his love of music, he just wants to be a family man — and with Salma Hayek for a bride, who can blame him?

WHY HE MADE OUR LIST El Mariachi may be the most iconic killer-as-reluctant-hero since Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name in Sergio Leone’s ”Dollars” trilogy, to which director Robert Rodriguez owes a clear debt. Rodriguez puts him in some of the most inventive action sequences ever. And as portrayed in the latter two films by a soulful, burnished, impeccably dressed Banderas, he’s also the most smolderingly sexy killer in movies.

EW MOVIE GRADE B- (”El Mariachi”), B (”Desperado”), B (”Mexico”)


  • Movie
  • R
  • 106 minutes
  • Robert Rodriguez