Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Mel Gibson has made many great movies throughout his career – some I’d go as far to call classics. However, the troubles in his personal life that have become public in recent years that have made studios a bit weary about his box office appeal and because of this they’ve chosen, for the most part, to let him do his own thing and see where it gets him.
The thing is, when you have as much money as Gibson does, you don’t really need studios backing you, as he once again proves with his latest movie (that can pretty much be considered a straight to home video flick) Get the Gringo.
The movie (originally titled How I Spent My Summer Vacation) sees Gibson playing a criminal with no name, who is referred to simply as Driver in the credits. At the start of the film he and his partner are being chased down by the police after a robbery of some sort, and as the chase races alongside the US-Mexico border, the Mexican federales begin to follow along from their side. One thing leads to another and Driver tries to jump the border fence, crashes his car on the Mexican side of the border, and is caught. While at first the Mexicans are happy to let the American law enforcement take him into custody, they soon see the millions in cash that Driver has stolen, and the corrupt cops decide to lock him away in a Mexican prison and keep the money for themselves.
Inside the prison, Driver (who is referred to as Gringo more than Driver, so I’m not sure why they didn’t go that route in the credits) has to learn the ways of Mexican prison life fast, as it’s extremely different from how it’s done in America. While there are guards, almost all of them are corrupt in some way, and many are in the pocket of a man named Javi (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), who is like the kingpin of the prison. While trying to get by, Driver ends up befriending a 10-year-old boy (Kevin Hernandez) that lives in the prison with his mother (Dolores Heredia) who was arrested for drug trafficking. Soon, Driver finds out that the boy has been holding back vital information, and these secrets could end up getting them both killed.
Comparisons are being made between this film and Gibson’s earlier gritty action vehicle Payback, as Gibson plays more of a bad guy in both, who does just enough of the right thing against the wrong people so that the audience cheers him on. And it works here, as Driver is a guy who isn’t all that likable at the start (though he does have a sense of humour when stuck between a rock and a hard place) but we soon find reasons to cheer for him as the story progresses.
The action is definitely over the top, with plenty of crazy shootouts and chases that will leave those craving an adrenaline kick quite satisfied; however, I just couldn’t shake the thought that it was missing something throughout. I’m all for ignoring plausibility if the movie requires it, and this one does, so the lack of realism wasn’t it (though for those who wonder how Indiana Jones keeps avoiding bullets while being shot at, this movie may make your head explode), so if I had to guess, I’d say it’s that Get the Gringo just doesn’t have that lasting power as many of Gibson’s other works do.
Again, the movie isn’t bad, and if you’re a fan of his, or just a fan of the genre, you’ll likely enjoy yourself with the mix of action and humour that Gibson and his co-writers, Adrien Grunberg and Stacy Perskie came up with. However, if you’re looking for something with legs that you’ll revisit again and again, this likely isn’t it.
The acting is well done from all sides, and it did make me wish that Gibson would do more movies along the lines of Edge of Darkness, or even something fun like another Lethal Weapon movie (you think I can’t hear some of you groaning at the thought?), as he truly is a great actor that can still deliver the goods. For now though it looks like he’s taking it easy and only doing what really appeals to him – which, let’s face it, he’s earned the right to do.
Get the Gringo is entertaining for the 95 minutes you’re watching it, though don’t count on it to stick in your mind for long after it’s done. While this isn’t one of his stronger films, it’s nice to see Gibson on screen once again, and it is worth checking out at least once if you’re in the mood to watch some bullets fly – and in most cases, completely miss their intended target.
The audio quality for the film is strong throughout, with solid use of sound effects, and music mixed with dialogue that’s easy to hear for the most part. There are subtitles for the parts spoken in Spanish, and some may just keep them on if they find it easier, but the audio transfer is strong throughout. The visuals are also great, with a nice warm colour palette used for the most part to keep the film looking vibrant and energetic.
Get the Gringo: A Look Inside – This feature runs at 18 minutes in length and sees Mel Gibson, Adrien Grunberg and Stacy Perskie all talking about how the film came to be. Basically, Gibson was interested in Mexican prisons and how they operated, and over time the three kept throwing ideas out there which eventually became this movie.
On Set: The Car Chase – This is a featurette that runs at three and a half minutes, and basically gives a behind the scenes perspective of the car chase scene along the “border” of Mexico.
On Set: The Showdown – This one runs at just over four minutes in length and allows you to watch some behind the scenes footage of the major shootout that takes place midway through the movie. This would be the scene where Gibson is being shot at by a group of hired guns and pretty much everybody but Gibson ends up taking a bullet.
On Set: The Raid – This one covers the big finale in just under four minutes of behind the scenes footage.
“El Corrido del Gringo” Music Video
Get the Gringo is a well-made flick that has a solid story and decent characters that will give action junkies their fix, just don’t expect it to last very long once the movie is over.
Icon Productions presents Get the Gringo. Directed by: Adrian Grunberg. Written by: Mel Gibson, Adrien Grunberg, Stacy Perskie. Starring: Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Dean Norris, Kevin Hernandez, Dolores Heredia, Daniel Gimenez Cacho. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: R. Released: July 17, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare