Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Last year was not a good year for Mel Gibson with further bad publicity regarding his offensive off-screen behaviour and the disappointing success of The Beaver. Now it appears a major film studio has sidetracked his latest film Get the Gringo, which he produced and financed $20 million to make it.
Get the Gringo was released in the Middle East, South America, Singapore, UK, Ireland, Russia, Greece and it will be released in Australia on May 31. However, it did not receive a theatrical release in North America - it instead was released as a Video On Demand title.
There is an old saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover," well when I first heard the title, Get the Gringo, my reaction was, 'Oh no, another terrible blood splattering 'B' grade action movie."
Well, there is no denying, there is lots of shooting and blood letting, but I feel Mel is back doing what he does really well. He plays 'Driver', a career criminal who is a deeply flawed anti-hero who has no past history, no name ('just call me Driver') and no finger prints. He border crashes his way into Mexico to avoid capture from the pursuing lawmen for armed robbery. The corrupt Mexican cops take the money and place Driver into detention in a prison town known as "El Pueblito", which is controlled by the crims. It is a place where anything goes - except escape. I don't want to spoil the story by revealing too much, which I detest with reviews that reveal the entire story, leaving no surprises for the viewer.
Driver caught in prison street battle. Image courtesy of Icon.
This is what I call an action movie with Mel delivering a great performance as the anti-hero who he takes his share of beatings and still manages to survive in this hell hole, even though he is the only white American (Gringo). Driver learns with the aid of a young lad (Kevin Hernandez, The Sitter - 2011, My Name is Earl - TV series) how to survive and 'who's who' in this criminal environment, along with his hard-working and fiery mother (Dolores Heredia, Vantage Point - 2008) who is doing time for drug smuggling.
The street-wise boy shows Driver around the prison. Image courtesy of Icon.
Gibson is unquestionably a real bad-ass, with witty wisecracks and an on-screen presence that is believable and entertaining. Be prepared to suspend reality at times, such as when four crims beat and stomp kick Driver severely, just for his boots. In real life he wouldn't have survived, but this is after-all Hollywood and such unrealistic scenes are so common in action films today. The violence is not of the same intensity of a Coen Brothers or Tarantino movie, but there were moments in which I was reminded of Fargo and Pulp Fiction - for example, one character was relieved of his toes with bolt cutters, which had me squirming in my seat, but in the next scene something would happen - which would make me chuckle, and I ended up questioning my own set of morals.
Two crooks Javi & his brother, Caracas run the prison in style. Image courtesy of Icon.
I was reading a review in which the writer felt Gibson was showing his age and wasn't cut out for such roles. I couldn't disagree more. The lines in Gibson's face give him the appearance of a man who has lived a tough life, seen his share of trouble and strife, but there is still that smile and gleam in his eyes that show he still has that special screen presence. He along with Liam Neeson, despite being older than some of the younger glamorous stars, still show they have that extra life experience that brings depth of character to their roles.
Adrian Grunberg who was Assistant Director on Gibson's Apocalypto and Second Unit Director on Edge of Darkness. makes his debut as Director with Get the Gringo, which he co-wrote with Gibson. Grungerg shows he has a definite feel for gritty violence and action movies.