It is no secret that the public has lost a lot of respect for Mel Gibson over the years. His hate-filled rants that once scattered the internet like littered candy-wrappers, identifiable aging, and modest releases over the years have proved that he may be wandering around a plain of confusion and uncertainty. It is a shame his new film, Get the Gringo, has gotten such a limited release, playing exclusively on DirecTV before eventually getting a wider VOD and DVD release later this year.
This is by no means a great film, but it holds up a lot better than recent action films boasting a huge actor has the lead (Taken is the prime example here) and packs in half the amount of incredulity as those as well. The story is concise and well-managed, centering around a nameless man (in the credits he's referred to as "Driver") played by Mel Gibson. He is a career criminal, with a vague history, an extensive amount of sarcasm, and a classic form of mystery plagues his character. After being nabbed by the Mexican authorities, he is thrown in a rotten, slimy prison, corrupt and dilapidated, as well as being run by shameless thugs and the occasional prostitute.
At first, Driver takes on the prison lifestyle with an iron fist. He becomes fearless, setting a fire in a market so he can steal a drug dealer's money, and even one of the best scenes in the film involves him knocking a man on a toilet unconscious before stealing his money and weaponry. He then learns that in order to move up on the prison ladder, he can't always be committing thievery and pursing the life of a determined rebel. That's where a nine year old watchmen comes in (Hernandez). As he assists Driver in teaching him the prison life, it isn't long before both of them become mixed up in a whirlwind of the same corruption ruining the prison today.
The cinematography and the overall environment deserves immediate commendable recognition. It makes a seamy place out to be seamy, and doesn't take the route of The Hangover Part II where it transforms a place into something so glum and ugly that it can't be enjoyed. Get the Gringo exists in a dirty, gritty world, and it wants to show it all.
Again, Gibson carries the film, much like he did in Jodie Foster's subpar The Beaver. Gibson resorts back to the sort of grittiness that he erected his odyssey of a career on; a man with no history in a dirty, filthy world where the only role you can play to have respect is "the bad cop." He is wonderful here, and manages to inspire a number of intriguing scenes that rarely become too comical or too unrealistic. There are many shoot-outs, but they are sometimes fun to watch. Even the car chase in the beginning is a riot.
It's a shame that Get the Gringo gets a sour run theatrically, debuting only one night in Austin, and a very secluded run on a Video on Demand service. This film is fun, non-challenging escapism that pleases because of its simplicity and action. After the mild success of Gibson's Edge of Darkness and the very underwhelming The Beaver, studios believe Mel Gibson is poison to the system. Perhaps, but let me remind you guys something; he made The Passion of the Christ - one of the most controversial and daring religious pictures in history. I believe the guy deserves more respect.
Starring: Mel Gibson and Kevin Hernandez. Directed by: Adrian Grunberg.