Posted by: Addison – Jul 20, 2012
Get The Gringo (2012, dir. Adrian Grunberg)
Rating: 5 cans of PBR.
Maybe I should have given this one the whole six-pack. I had a blast with Get the Gringo, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who needs an obnoxious action film in their life. It’s 2012, and such movies are hard to find these days, so I was hoping that the man who once portrayed Mad Max wouldn’t let me down. Now, this isn’t The Road Warrior, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, it should be known that Mel is still fully capable of driving that tanker. Get the Gringo is a bloody good time laced with an abundance of attitude, and it boasts some truly top-notch action sequences.
I should point out that I’ve been a fan of Mel Gibson’s work for about as long as I can remember, and I didn’t allow all of the stuff going on with his life outside of film to impact my enjoyment of his latest offering whatsoever. I’m not condoning or trivializing anything he has said or done, but I wasn’t willing to condemn the man either, and I thought this movie was truly bad ass.
Get the Gringo opens with one of the most overzealous scenes in the picture, and it gives the audience a great idea of just what lies ahead. This full-throttle introduction to the piece centers around a high-speed chase, with numerous police vehicles pursuing a getaway car driven by a foul-mouthed clown. The foul-mouthed clown continually scolds a dying clown in the back seat for bleeding all over the money, and this warped chase is a visual treat composed of equal parts absolute carnage and black humor. The foul-mouthed clown is the protagonist of this film, a character who will never be named, and the opening chase is a fitting introduction. This is a man of action, a driven character who pursues objectives with a single-minded dedication that could be described as either utterly ruthless or incredibly determined.
The chase takes us south of the border, and it doesn’t end well. Soon, our main character finds himself in “El Pueblito,” a hard-core Mexican prison community that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen on film. In truth, though the picture rarely misfires, the two biggest assets to its eventual success are Gibson’s riveting performance and this unlikely setting. This seedy community is a writhing hive of addicts, whores, and thugs, though for the most part it is easier to lump all of the inhabitants into two distinct categories: predators and victims. The victims are many, and the predators, who live in luxury at the top of the food chain, are few. As both a gringo and a newcomer, Gibson’s rugged hero should be at a disadvantage here, but he plays a man who embraces such challenges, and has a skill set that pays off in his new environment. Namely, he’s a thief. There aren’t many feature films being made where the protagonist brutalizes and plunders his adversaries, but that’s just what Gibson does here. It doesn’t take long for him to determine that cash is king in his new home, and from that point on, if you have cash, you better watch the fuck out!
Now, this is a movie, so you know there’s going to be some heart and soul, and here the heart and soul comes in the form of a ten-year-old kid with some major street smarts and a serious jones for cigarettes. Gibson and his new pal are soon working together to topple the big man in the joint, and despite the fact that one half of this daring duo should be in grade school, they make for one hell of a team. Their interactions seldom have a father-and-son vibe, though they frequently reminded me of some of the scenes Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy shared in 48 Hrs. Yeah, the kid’s only ten, but it’s just that kind of a movie.
I don’t want to give much more away, because the plot is far more rewarding than I might have anticipated, but as the movie progresses, the stakes get higher and higher for all of the players involved. Our gringo needs to get the hell out of “El Pueblito” if he values either his life or the money that a pair of corrupt Mexican cops took from him when they busted him, and the kid has even more at stake. I will advise you that before the film is over you will be treated to one of the most remarkable shootouts ever captured on film, and there’s a payoff to a minute subplot that had me in stitches during the closing reel. Blink and you’ll miss it, but astute viewers will be equally amused.
Gibson is incredible, and the movie wisely relies on his star power to propel it. Get the Gringo was tailor-made for his strengths, and he never fails to deliver. At his best, Mel has always seemed very comfortable and utterly authentic in roles of this nature. He’s a badass with a purpose, a blunt instrument with charisma, and once he sets his sights on something, we as an audience are free to enjoy the fireworks. Some actors do too much in films of this type and their characters become caricatures. Some do too little and provide us with wooden performances that fail to excite. Gibson is perfect; he is strong, he is believable, and even though his circumstances force him to take some desperate actions, we never stop rooting for him.
At the end of the day, this seemed like a throwback to the work of Sam Peckinpah, or maybe one of my personal favorites, the woefully under-appreciated Walter Hill. Yes, there’s a ten-year-old kid in the mix, but he’s far from your average ten-year-old, and his presence doesn’t lead Get the Gringo to pull any punches. This is an action movie for people who love action movies. There are no starlets, no absurd stunts that require extensive CGI, and no one involved was trying to bring this one in with a PG-13 so you could drag the whole family out to the multiplex to see it. This is a throwback to the days when action films required tough heroes who weren’t all that heroic, gritty locales, fiendish villains, and a lot of bloodshed. This is a movie for the people who like to pop the tab on a frosty can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, put their feet up, and watch people curse loudly and blow shit up for a few hours. If that sounds appealing to you, you’re going to have a blast with one of Mel Gibson’s most sensational features yet, Get the Gringo.
By James Wayland