Friday, May 6, 2011

Top 5 Films Featuring Mel Gibson

This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Mel Gibson, the actor and one of the stars of the new film The Beaver has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on his performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that se happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

Mel Gibson has had always been a very likable screen presence. Even if the film he was in ended up being a complete failure (What Women Want comes to mind) he never failed to charm. While his more dramatic roles and his directorial efforts have pretty much defined his career as of late (his personal life not withstanding) I have always found him to be most engaging when he delves more into comedy or action. Many of his roles have him on some sort of revenge rampage but even in more action oriented fare like those he has always been able to find a good balance between the humorous and intense aspects. I was one of the few people saddened by the success of The Passion of the Christ because once that became such a huge hit it felt like we lost one of our great actors. I am a huge fan of Mel's time behind the camera but due to his charismatic and fun nature in front of the camera I will always think of him as an actor first for better or worse. These are just a handful of some of my favorite films he has been in that I turn to when I want to point out to someone just how great of an actor he truly is.


I just love the look and feel of this film...both versions of it. For those not in the know, there are two very distinct versions of this film out there with only the director's cut being available in any of the HD formats. While both versions are equally good and have their own merits (the last half hour for each is completely different from one another) the one thing that never changed was Mel's performance. As you will notice with some of my other choices the man just has a knack for playing a guy out for revenge and making you root for him. As he combs the crime riddled streets in Payback he wastes no time and takes no prisoners while searching for his money and the people that betrayed him which is what Mel excels at. This is one of my quintessential revenge films that I just love to go back to and watch Mel do his thing..., "That's just mean man!".



Does anything really need to be said here? The film that every movie featuring a car chase is leveled against. You have no idea how many times I have heard movies compared to this. It is either "It reminded me of that seminal chase from The Road Warrior" or "It was easily on par with The Road Warrior". The real star of the show has been and always will be Mel Gibson as Mad Max though. His ex-cop drifter is one of the very first true anti-heroes of cinema. And I absolutely love that Mel didn't go down the cliche ridden route with him feeling bad for these people being terrorized and trying to help them. You can see in every scene that he is just trying to play any angle he can so he can get what he wants and get out of there. That of course leads into his character arc during the classic climatic chase where he literally has nothing to lose and goes for broke to help them any way he can. I love love love this movie and despite director George Miller rebooting the franchise I cannot ever imagine anyone else ever doing the role of Mad Max justice seeing as how Mel and that character non-interchangeable.



Mel's second directorial effort was not only the one that got him noticed as a director to be reckoned with but it was also one of the best epic films to come out of the nineties. While I can't say that Mel was at the top of his game being the happy guy in love, "I love ya, always have". But when he goes into full on revenge mode he reverts back to the from-the-pits-of-hell Mel that I love so much. His rousing speech that he gives to his troops may have been parodied relentlessly but when I hear it today I still find myself getting caught up in it. And even though I couldn't buy into his performance completely in the opening moments of the film I found the connection he had with the princess near the end to be rather moving and effective. Although I didn't find anything truly outstanding about his overall performance here I still believe that out of the four films he has directed this is his greatest achievement behind the camera to date.



I know the first film in this franchise is the popular pick and I too agree completely about how great it is. But I just love the hell out of this film. It is one of the few films to surpass the original in almost every way imaginable. You have Mel and Danny Glover at the pinnacle of their careers and not appearing as to actually still like their characters, an unexpected hilarious turn by Joe Pesci (at the time anyway), some amazing action scenes (the opening dual car chase, the tow truck chase and tearing down an actual house on stilts) and some fantastic comedic moments (the condom commercial, when Leo and Murtaugh try to immigrate to Africa and the immortal line "They fuck you at the drive-thru!"). This movie ultimately is a triumphant success because it seemed like everyone involved was on their A game here. And once again we get to see Mel deliver justice only the way a man hell bent on revenge can.



I got this sneaking suspicion that this choice will get some blank stares. While I know it isn't one of his more popular features I just can't help but love how much fun this movie is from beginning to end. The self referential humor (love that cameo by Danny Glover) and the three primary cast members, Mel, Jodie Foster and James Garner all combined to make one of the most enjoyable western outings I have ever had. I have to chalk this one up to both Mel and Jodie as their chemistry and comedic timing were pitch perfect if not just plain inspiring. If I had to name just one performance by Mel Gibson as my favorite then I would have to give that honor to his role as Brett Maverick. Say what you will about the movie not working for you and it being slightly too long but there is no denying just how darn lovable he is here. This is the type of movie I love to crack on when I just want to feel good and have a few well earned laughs.



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