Mel Gibson makes his spectacular return to the kind of action films he made decades ago, throwing caution and all good sense out the window in favour of pure adrenaline.
The last half decade has been a slight one for Mel Gibson, a combination of off-screen troubles and an increased role behind the camera. Indeed, in the years between 2002’s Signs and 2010’s The Edge of Darkness, he accepted no leading role in lieu of cameos and directing the successful The Passion of the Christ (2004) and the lesser Apocalypto (2006). After demonstrating a sincerity in The Beaver (2011), one that only comes from his own experiences of hitting rock bottom and clawing his way back up, Gibson allows himself to have a little fun with Get the Gringo.
The titular Gringo (Mel Gibson) finds himself south of the border after driving straight through it during a bank robbery getaway. His millions in stolen funds confiscated, he lands in a town-like prison, run on the inside by the overlord Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho). Befriending a 10-year old boy (Kevin Hernandez) and his mother (Dolores Heredia), the Gringo begins to play the odds on the inside to not only gain his freedom and his lost loot, but save the good people of the prison town.
The preposterous setting is the kind of high-concept throwback to the late 1990s run of Jerry Bruckheimer flicks, principally Con Air or pretty much anything with Nicolas Cage in it. More so, it’s a return to the kind of Mel Gibson of the Lethal Weapon series: slightly unhinged, wisecracking but able to whip groups of bad guys in a single bound. Gibson, Stacy Perskie and director Adrian Grunberg’s script purposefully leaves extraneous character details, right down to the Gringo’s name, out of the melting pot, trading exposition for cool caché. An ingredient for disaster, but Grunberg has clearly learned a thing or two from years as first assistant director for the likes of Oliver Stone (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Sam Mendes (Jarhead), Peter Wier (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), Tony Scott (Man on Fire) and Gibson himself (Apocalypto). The result is a confident first outing, albeit a chaotic one, filled with impressive set pieces and a lived-in world.
At a brisk 95 minutes, Get the Gringo wastes no time in establishing itself as a action yarn that wants to rock your world before downing a few cervezas and passing out. The black and white morality of the film, forcing the character to choose between saving a kid from being butchered or selling out to the kingpin, will forever keep this from winning prestigious accolades. It’s also pervaded with a sense of clever-clever action that has infused every post Guy Ritchie film this side of Lock, Stock. Yet this is nevertheless a solid shoot-’em-up that will hopefully put Gibson back on the map as a manic force to be reckoned with.
Get the Gringo is released in Australia on 31 May 2012 from Icon. It was released direct to VOD in the US.