Get the Gringo seems like it wanted to be made in the late 70s but needed to be released 40 years later for it to be deemed opposite of â€œahead of its timeâ€. Mel Gibson plays a â€œman with no nameâ€ in a film that is surprisingly better than what I expected. Apart from acting, he has co-written and produced the film. His acting credit says â€œDriverâ€ as if Walter Hill needed a bit of winking and nudging. The film begins with a car chase as our driver-man escapes the cops and onto the other side of the Mexican border. He is our existential loner who walks into a new territory and gets involved with its inhabitants only so much that he can walk out of it later, Yojimbo style.
We are introduced to the Mexican prison called â€œEl Pueblitoâ€. Google tells me it means â€œThe Villageâ€. (and Gringo means American, which I knew without googling, ahem). It also tells me it was indeed a real prison in Tijuana raided and destroyed in 2002. The film is, I'm sure, a piece of fiction set around this strangely intriguing backdrop.
I'm a Mel Gibson fan. As far as action stars go, he's one of my favorites. I love him more because of his directorial efforts. Braveheart (1995), Passion of the Christ (2004) and Apocalypto (2006), all have their filmmaking aesthetics in place. I can't wait to see his next. I've also been waiting for him to do an action film. Edge of Darkness (2004) did not really hit the spot. Get the Gringo could easily be taken as Mel's return to form if only it got a legitimate release on the American soil. It is quite literally Payback (1999) set in Mexico. I'm not sure if it works as much that one did. But hey, can't ask for too much, can we?
The fascinating depiction of the prison is what makes this film interesting to watch. The real star of the film is the production designer Bernardo Trujillo. Aided by the cinematography (the incredibly talented Benoit Debie) and the voiceover, it feels like we are going on a journey with the character instead of just wham bam action. It gets the use of the voice over device surprisingly right. It is effective in making us feel a part of the action. What truly confirmed my interest was the character of the 10-year-old kid played by Kevin Hernandez. He was just plain weird in the Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter (2011) but here he finds some solid footing. The quasi father-son bond humanizes the story. All I hope is that the filmmakers didn't actually make him smoke during the shoot.
For most part of the rest of the film, we see our likable anti-hero going for his shot at redemption as he cons and manipulates his way through the crime bosses and villains. Torture and violence follows wherever he goes. My favorite scene in the film is when Mel Gibson impersonates Clint Eastwood. This is the most implausible part of the story and might take you right out of it, if not for the cheeky way it is handled. While Gibson does his Eastwood impression on the phone, the person at the other end finishes the coversation by saying â€œMake my dayâ€. Humor can be found in the darkest of places.
The film suffers from a convoluted plot. A liver transplant, if you may. For a film like this, I guess it needs to be so. But then again, there is a shootout in slow motion that recalls the likes of Sam Peckinpah and a thrilling climax. The denouement ties everything together with a ribbon. I â€œwantedâ€ to like this film and I â€œwantedâ€ to see Mel Gibson back in action. For these reasons alone, I believe it was a perfectly enjoyable film, which delivers what it promises. Somewhere I do wish it delivered more. He needs a comeback of the caliber of the Lethal Weapon series, not exactly Payback.view less