Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon, Passion of the Christ) has had an interesting life the last few years. Repeated scandals involving alcohol abuse and anti-Semitism have landed him in the wrong spotlight for a while now, but it’s refreshing to see him start to make an attempt to return to some semblance of his former self with Get the Gringo. The film is Gibson’s third writing endeavor after Passion of the Christ, and Apocalypto, but unlike these previous projects, Gringo feels more like a traditional Mel Gibson vehicle.
The story begins with Gibson’s character (known only as “The Driver” according to IMDB, but he goes by a number of aliases during the film) fleeing the police after a major heist. Money’s everywhere, and his partner is bleeding to death in the back seat. The pair crash through the Mexican border to escape U.S. jurisdiction and Gibson is sent to a Mexican prison while a pair of corrupt Mexican federales pocket his score. So, the bulk of the film is Gibson trying to not only survive prison, but carve out a profitable existence for himself. He quickly befriends Kevin Hernandez’s character (known only as “The Kid”) and his mother, played by Dolores Heredia.
But wait, why are there women and kids in a prison? Good question. This is unlike any prison movie you’ve ever seen. Once Gibson’s character is introduced into the general population of the prison, he compares it to the world’s worst shopping mall. Inside the prison is a completely self-sustained community, complete with businesses, restaurants, drugs and prostitution. At the top of the food chain is Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a crime lord with a unique interest in the Kid.
I was actually really impressed with Get the Gringo, even with its misleading title. To me, it suggests Mel Gibson’s character being on the run from bad guys and cops alike, but since most of the film takes place inside this prison environment, there’s very little getting to do. At the end of the day, this is a very fun movie, and it plays to Gibson’s strengths perfectly. Even though he’s starting to get old, he’s still completely believable as the hard-nosed badass. The plot of the film is well-structured and the finale is satisfying in every way. The cast is more than capable to keep your interest, even though there’s no one performance that stands out as particularly amazing. Overall, this is well worth your time.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox on July 17