GET THE GRINGO
It's been a bad day for career criminal Driver (Mel Gibson), and it's not getting any better. Having stolen millions, he is having to try and outrun the tough guys as well as the cops on his tail as he heads South, and crashes into Mexico, where his loot is confiscated by the Mexican cops. He is bundled off to the notorious El Pueblito jail in Tijuana. When he meets a 10-year-old (Kevin Hernandez) who is being protected in the hothouse of violence, he wants to find out why. He is also wants to get back his loot.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Mel Gibson is back doing what he knows, playing a flawed character with redeeming qualities who is also a resourceful tough guy. He's done bad things, yet we are rooting for him because deep down we think he's redeemable. When he does a decent thing, we nod inwardly with 'knew it' comfort. Along the way, he has to overcome challenges even greater than the one at the start of the film, which is a car chase on a desert road leading nowhere good.
He shows his cunning when he sets about an assassination which involves a vocal impersonation of Clint Eastwood and a well planned con job.
The story has been well thought through, with several layers, ranging from the plot about the stolen loot to the story of the 10 year old (Kevin Hernandez) and his widowed mother (Dolores Heredia); there are clever twists and plenty of action as the various plot points join up into a tense and tumultuous prison drama.
The prison itself, El Pueblito, is based on the real prison of that name that had to be closed down. It was an experiment that backfired; the 2,000 prisoners were allowed to have their family join them, supposedly to better rehabilitate the crims. Didn't work, and the prison became a small town, El Pueblito, with all kinds of business going on, from drugs to sex to real estate - as well as burgers and burritos.
This setting is superbly executed and makes a very tangible contribution to the film, with its chaotic and dangerous atmos a constant source of tension. Visually stimulating and perfect for the hide and seek battles between our protagonists, El Pueblito is where the bulk of the action takes place.
Hernandez is terrific as the all-too-grown up youngster, who lost his father under extraordinary circumstances. Heredia is also great as the mother who fears for her son but can do little to protect him from the fate that awaits him at the hands of the king of the inmates, Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho). Peter Gerety is a knockout at the US Consul who is hustling as busily as everyone else for a share of the cash, under a veneer of helpfulness.
Apart from a few lazy mistakes in the first half of the film, co-writer and director Adrian Grunberg handles the pace with oomph and gets a good balance between intimate moments and full on throttle.
Review by Louise Keller:
Charged with action, violence and Mel Gibson playing a baddass crook with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, Get the Gringo cooks with all the Right Stuff as it plays out in a Mexican jail where anything goes, and the crims run the joint. Gibson produced, co-wrote the script and stars in the film that seems to have all the right attributes to showcase his talents at this point in his career, after some years in the wilderness following his highly publicised personal issues.
Despite a strong performance, audiences were not ready to embrace him as the mentally ill stricken husband in The Beaver (2011), but here, in the chaotic, deadly setting of El Pueblito, where Gibson (as Driver) finds himself after being nabbed with a couple of million dollars in his getaway car, he seems in his element, having to use his street-smart criminal wiles to survive.
The richness of the prison backdrop is a source of amazement, described by Driver as 'the world's sh*ttiest mall' with food stalls, drugs and sex on demand, guns in plentiful supply and an intimidation-driven system where money talks and violence is only a heartbeat behind. At the helm (and co-writer), is Spanish director Adrian Grunberg who has lived in Mexico for the past 15 years and has previously worked with Gibson on Apocalypto (2006) and Edge of Darkness (2010). He is able to inject the film with the right feel and there's an authenticity about the setting that allows this story to ring true - with its outrageous revelations, torture and corruption.
At the story's heart is the relationship between Gibson and a 10 year old boy (Kevin Hernandez, excellent), who is terrifyingly in tune with all the evils that transpire in the world in which he lives. He has a secret, which is the reason Cartel boss Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho) protects him. We watch Driver do what he does best - shamelessly thieve and deceive - but his claim to redemption comes when he puts himself in jeopardy for the sake of the boy and his mother (Dolores Heredia).
There are some juicy set pieces and delicious comeuppances for various characters including Peter Gerety's smarmy, fat Embassy Guy, who claims 'there's a little skinny guy inside'. I love the scene in which Gibson pretends to be Clint Eastwood; the pay-off is spectacular. Not for the faint of heart, be prepared for bloodied shoot-outs, torture and other violence which counters the film's opening in which Gibson (in clown make-up), makes a daring car-chase getaway by crossing a couple of lines - one of them being the Mexican border. Gibson is back - with a vengeance.
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GET THE GRINGO (MA)
CAST: Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Bob Gunton, Dean Norris, Kevin Hernandez, Scott Cohen, Dolores Heredia, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Fernando Becerril, Roberto Sosa
PRODUCER: Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey, Stacy Perskie
DIRECTOR: Adrian Grunberg
SCRIPT: Mel Gibson, Adrian Grunberg, Stacy Perskie
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Benoit Debie
EDITOR: Steven Rosenblum
MUSIC: Antonio Pinto
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bernardo Trujillo
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 31, 2012
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.