Rage monster Mel Gibson is proving to audiences that he still has that maverick edge. While unmedicated antics continue in his private life, the actor can still make for an appealing good-spirited criminal. Get the Gringo, a grit-in-the-teeth production inspired by the sliced cheese and sleaze of early '70s action flicks, is the proof.
Sidestepping theaters in the United States, Gibson’s latest offering, Get the Gringo, revels in its bi-polarizing spirit of a judicial system gone comically wrong. It is a movie that is somehow both dismissible and strangely appealing with its visual energy and location. It is also unique in its semi-comic tone and uber violent vision of the most notorious prison in Mexico (the now closed El Pueblito).
To be clear, Get the Gringo is not a pretty picture. Heat practically bakes through the screen. It’s tough as nails realism and blood-fueled comic commotions will certainly turn a few heads. It’s a fit for its star, though. These days Gibson, also co-producer and co-writer of the film, is all about the grunge.
Directed by Adrian Grunberg (in his debut), Get the Gringo kicks off the hard-nosed attitude with a high speed chase that sees Gibson in a clown costume trying to outrun some federal agents as he nears the border. Hysterically telling isn’t it? His car is full of cash. His partner, also in clown-face, is spitting up blood in the backseat and Gibson, knowing the agents are close behind, angles the car toward the metal fence of the border and guns it.
The other side is no better.
The Federales decide to keep his stolen cash and throw him in the pungently over-crowded El Pueblito, where a whole culture of thieves and families are permitted to wander freely. Gibson, who remains unnamed throughout, quickly establishes his swagger with some well-executed take downs and is left alone. Even in prison Gibson can alienate himself.
Things get tricky when he befriends a cigarette smoking 10-year-old boy (Kevin Hernandez) who resides in the open-aired prison with his mother (Dolores Heredia). Gibson quickly learns the boy, like himself, has some serious anger issues. He wants revenge on the man who killed his father, but that man happens to be the one who “rules” the prison (Daniel Gimenez Cacho).
While Grunberg struggles a bit with the intensified antics of a free-wheeling ending, he peppers the movie with enough involving moments of black humor and violence to keep the audience’s attention. Sometimes the comedy rises from out of nowhere, but each occurrence adds a bit more flavor to Gibson’s script. Gibson himself provides a few lighthearted moments with some narration that reads as both ironic and, at times, light-hearted in spite of the amount of violent images happening around his character.
Yet, it’s the setting and production design from Bernardo Trujillo, who transformed a vacant penitentiary into an open market buffet of goods and wares and tattoos, which sells the film. That and the overwhelming amount of extras and villains, all cast for their memorable looks it seems. Yes, the bad guys gobble up their roles and, of course, Gibson saves what’s left of the day he’s already ruined, but it’s a brisk 95 minutes of grimy predictability that you won’t mind.
Get the Gringo might draw inspiration from the famous films of Leone, Hill, and Peckinpah, but there’s no real comparison; Grunberg sometimes falls into their footsteps instead of making his own. That being said, Get the Gringo is more tantalizing than Edge of Darkness and much more satisfying than The Beaver.
One thing is for certain, Mel Gibson will not go softly into that dark night.
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some drug use and sexual material
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Writer: Adrian Grunberg; Mel Gibson
Cast: Mel Gibson; Peter Stormare; Dean Norris; Bob Gunton; Kevin Hernandez
Genre: Action | Thriller | Drama
Tagline: The odds are against him. So is everyone else.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Dear mom, I've been under a lot of stress at work. And I've come into a windfall."
Distributor: Icon Productions
Release Date: No theatrical release (Video-on-demand) May 1, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: July 17, 2012
Synopsis: A career criminal (Gibson) nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a 9-year-old boy.
Available on Blu-ray - July 17, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy
Encoding: Locked to region A
The 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation of 20th Century Fox’s Get the Gringo is faithful to the digitally shot film. Crisp and grizzled, the sun-drenched colors look perfectly baked and refried for this south of the border shoot ‘em up. Close-ups are riddled with detail and facial scars; one practically feels the beads of sweat that mark the actor’s brow. Keep in mind that the feature is supposed to be a pot-marked grindhouse rough and ready picture, so the image is supposed to be as gritty as it looks. It was shot on the Red Eye camera, but the filmic quality of the feature is nicely chiseled with some grain detail. Colors are bold and sharp and never surrender their definition. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a great addition to the release and adds an aural punch to the visuals. Gunfire is crisp and LOUD and car chases soar by in crystal clear HD. Overall, a solid release.
While there are other editions available (Best Buy has one with 35 minutes of bonus content), the standard release should suffice. It isn’t full of material, but it has enough to satisfy its fans. First up is a good look behind-the-scenes. It’s 18 minutes with interviews from cast and crew about how the film came together and how it was shot in a real prison. Next up are a series of featurettes that take a look at the stunts of the movie: the chase sequence that kick-starts the film; the shootout showdown and its choreography; and the raid. There is also a music video, for good measure.
- Get the Gringo - A Look Inside (18 min)
- On Set - The Car Chase (4 min)
- On Set - The Showdown (4 min)
- On Set - The Raid (4 min)
- "El Corrido del Gringo" Music Video (3 min)