Monday, August 27, 2012

Get the Gringo - QC Review

Directed by: Adrian Gunberg
Starring: Mel Gibson, Dolores Heredia, Kevin Hernandez and Peter Stormare
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes
Release Date: May 1, 2012

Gibson is looking a little beat up after jumping that border.

Written, produced and starring Mel Gibson, "Get the Gringo" is the third film featuring the once Hollywood mega star since his much publicized anti semitic remarks and those absurdly hateful phone calls to his ex-wife. Much like another fallen star (Tom Cruise), he has been trying to find a way back into the public's good favor for years now, but unable to do so thus far. His two other most recent films, "Edge of Darkness" and "The Beaver", were not exactly the best vehicles to set him on the path to forgiveness either, but with this, his latest endeavor in front of the camera, he finally seems to be getting his groove back.

Owing more than a fare share of its inspiration from another Gibson favorite, 1999's "Payback", "Get the Gringo" focuses on a man with many names (none of them real) who has just barely escaped the jaws of justice by literally jumping across the border into Mexico and landing in the corrupt hands of Mexico's finest. After searching his car and locating the 2 million dollars in the back seat next to his dead accomplice, the police take him into custody, cook up a false story and throw him in prison while making off with his hard earned cash. Soon he finds himself incarcerated in a place by the name of El Pueblito, a bizarre prison where the prisoners are a mixture of men, women and kids. You have never seen a prison quite like this before, inmates can carry weapons and people run shops or stores, some prisoners are even allowed to leave to run errands. Once inside he instantly begins formulating a plan to get out and retrieve his stolen money before the people he stole it from come looking for him.

El Pueblito is a very interesting place.

You know all those movies where the crooks are on the run to the border in hopes of escape but never quite make it? Well, this is a slightly skewed version of  what happens when they actually do make it. While the prison itself may be taking some liberties with the actual Mexico prison system, it is no less fascinating to behold. Much of the fun found in the film is derived from when we are introduced to El Pueblito through Gibson's no name character as he delivers this omnipresent monologue, and we begin to see the opportunities allotted to him by these strange freedoms and how he uses his many talents to work the system in his favor. There is also this dark humor that pervades much of the film that helps give it this somewhat whimsical feel despite having multiple people blown up, shot or otherwise tortured as it runs its course. It's not so much the violence is made light of, but more like it isn't really the main focus. People get hurt real bad, but it never feels gratuitous or out of place. El Pueblito is a brutal place where brutal things happen, often to equally brutal people and the film thankfully never shies away from that aspect.

While the location itself is quite interesting (just wait until you see visitors day at the prison), the true star of the show is still Mel. He thrives in roles like this, as the sympathetic criminal who has been wronged by people that are much worse than him. Much like his character in "Payback", he is simply out to retrieve what is his and he is just playing all the angles needed to get it back and if along the way he so happens to help some people out, then so be it. "Get the Gringo" isn't going to blow people away but it does what it does extremely well. Featuring a truly unique location (the prison life in Mexico is very eye opening), a fun but dark charm and the best performance from Gibson in almost a decade,  it succeeds at being both an engaging and entertaining little crime thriller and also a reminder as to why Mel Gibson was one of the biggest stars of the 80's and 90's.

Mel always seems at his best when shooting at bad guys.





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