What’s it About?
A career criminal nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a 9-year-old boy.
“Get The Gringo”
Directed by Adrian Grunberg
“Stop bleeding on my money” – Driver (Mel Gibson)
We, as the movie viewing public, do love to raise our heroes up just to shoot them down. Well, I for one would not go that far regarding Mel Gibson but even he has had a shaky time revitalizing his stature as an action God. No more worries, gang. “Get the Gringo”, a film made in 2012 by Director Adrian Grunberg (A. D. on Traffic, Edge of Darkness and Man on Fire) is a very strong return to form for Mr. G. It is a flashback (or even a bit of time travel) of sorts for us as we get to watch Gibson, fiercely and believably, wield a gun and fight the bad guys.
Do we get the old Mel that would run around barefoot with a machine gun ala Dick Donner’s “Lethal Weapon?” Um, no. We do get an older, wiser and more beat up bad guy. A bad guy that waxes philosophic and is a terrible melancholic. But that’s OK. I personally didn’t mind. It was a decent angle played up with menace and resolve together by Gibson who has to play against a young kid in a Mexican Prison that is the asshole of the world.
That young kid is the very talented Kevin Hernandez (The Sitter) who plays “Kid” a very street wise, prison wise, little dude that knows every trick, scoop and grift in the prison. He and Gibson, known simply as “Driver”, square off at first then bond eventually as Gibson learns from the kid how to stay alive within the confines of the prison community. Having been convicted for robbing a bank he learns quickly from “Kid” that you should have eyes in the back of your head. “Kid” has a rare blood type and a scumbag of a crime boss in the prison has dibs on “Kid’s” Liver.
Having grown close to “Driver”, the “Kid” lets him stay near to him and even lets him near his mother. Gibson, though, we learn really wants out of prison but he feels compelled to help the boy and his Mother. Crime boss be damned. Let the bastard wear out his own liver and just die.
Overseas, the film was called “How I spent my Summer Vacation” Sounds really fucking stupid, huh? It saw no theatrical release here in the states. Bummer, since this was a great comeback vehicle for Gibson. He plays the type of dude we know and love. A flawed but redeemable tough guy that can’t help but save those who cannot save themselves. Here, Grunberg, having a great and gritty eye for composition, gives us some old Mel. Street fights, chases, gun battles and the best thing about it is that Mel doesn’t skip a beat. He’s lean and his physicality is just where we want it. He’s no Superman like Martin Riggs. That’s Mel from a generation ago.
We get a pensive, calculating bank robber who really doesn’t like kids but manages to get close to one. Given that he is sadder and more weary, it’s still great to see Gibson flaunt his macho acting chops but with a keen sense of the ironic. Grunberg does a commendable McTiernan-ian job during the numerous chases and well choreographed fights. In the intro we get a very dynamic car chase through the desert which is very kinetic and refreshingly lean. The film at times seems to border on self mimickry with some cardboard cut out characters that deliver some corny action movie dialog but that is my only complaint. Don’t miss this one gang. Mel is on that yellow brick road again and this time it leads to Mexico.