Get the Gringo – Review
Synopsis: During a high-speed police chase, Driver (Mel Gibson), crashes a car full of stolen money across the Mexican border. When two dirty cops notice the cash they take it for themselves and Driver gets thrown into El Pueblito – a crazy Mexican prison where guns, liquor and money flow freely. Oh, and families are welcome to live there too. Soon after entering this village-like prison, Driver befriends a 10-year-old boy (Kevin Hernandez) and his mother (Dolores Heredia). At first Driver’s only goals are to break out and get his cash back, but this all changes when he learns his new young friend is in danger. With the prison on the brink of falling apart, Driver must do what he does best – that’s steal and kill – to save his new friends and escape the perilous prison.
In recent years we have seen many films offer up elderly action-heroes; Bruce Willis is still getting the job done in the Die Hard films (the fifth is due out next year), and Liam Neeson also showed he can kick butt in his twilight years in Taken (which also has a sequel due out later this year). The key to the success of these elderly action-heroes is embracing their age and not ignoring it. From the outset Get the Gringo feels as if it is trying to force a fifty-something year-old actor into a role better suited for a twenty or thirty year-old. It appears that Gibson (a co-writer and producer for the film) is trying way too hard to reignite himself as the young action-hero he was in the 80′s, instead of reinventing himself as an elderly action-hero of today.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this film is Gibson’s narration. This is particularly heavy during the first quarter or so of the film and at times is completely unnecessary – at one point the narration literally describes what is being seen on the screen. How the narration really fails though is to build on Gibson’s character as a believable, cool, tough-guy. The narration style is excessively casual and absolutely brimming with sarcasm – which attempts to bring some comedy to the film, but apart from causing a couple of halfhearted chuckles, it only delivered annoyance. These issues with the narration might not have been so prominent had the audience been given any real history on Gibson’s character – another flaw in the film.
Overall Gibson’s performance is up and down, held up only by a few flashes of his former action-hero glory days which only shine through when he has a gun in his hand. If you are a fan of 1980′s action-hero Gibson, then this should be enough for you to squeeze some enjoyment out of this flick.
Director, Adrian Grunberg (who also co-wrote the film with Gibson) has created a film that fails to ever really find its bearings. The viewer is brought in with a high-speed car chase, presumably after a crime has been committed – this is unfortunately never explained or really built upon, it is simply served up with the expectation that the audience will gobble it down and not ask any questions. Goons are sent here and there, toes are cut off and people are shot, but the reveal of what is seemingly an important plot line is never made. Instead the film turns heavily into a plot line involving the 10-year-old boy, whose rare blood type means he is bound to give up his liver to save a wealthy and powerful inmate. The two plot lines are lazily drawn together by the end of the film; their joining feels obligatory and leaves the film feeling slightly underwhelming and incomplete. With a running time of just over 90 minutes, more time definitely could have been added to improve the overall history of the characters and story.
Regarding the release of the film it is worth noting an unexpected act by the films producers – which may or may not indicate their own opinion on the quality of the film. In the United States Get the Gringo completely bypassed theaters, instead it premiered though the video-on-demand service Direct TV. It shall be very interesting to see the success of this distribution tactic. All we can do is cross our fingers for Gibson, as needless to say, after the massive failure of The Beaver, he needs a winner. Unfortunately, I doubt that winner is going to be Get the Gringo.
Release Date: May 31, 2012 (AUS).
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Starring: Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez and Dolores Heredia.