Starring Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, and Dean Norris
Directed by Adrian Grunberg
Love him or hate him the caustic and often politically incorrect Mel Gibson is back with an action movie that got me hoping for something similar to 2010’s Edge of Darkness, which I have to admit I actually enjoyed quite a bit. Sure, all I had to go on was the advertising, but as you can see in the poster above – Gibson looks like he means business. Unfortunately, Get the Gringo doesn’t even come close to the fast-paced fun that was Edge of Darkness.
The film begins with two clowns racing towards the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border, paper bills flying out the window of their car, red and blue flashing lights hot on their trail. Of course these men aren’t actually clowns, but thieves in disguise who have just stolen a huge amount of cash. One of the thieves lies mortally wounded in the back seat, while the driver (Gibson) spots a make-shift ramp which just might launch their car over the wall and into the relative safety of Mexico. Gibson’s character takes the chance, escapes the American authorities but ends up in a Mexican prison, his money divided between some corrupt cops. The rest of the film is about Gibson’s character adapting to the prison life, which is really like a dangerous, over-populated small town. Gibson’s character befriends a young boy and his mother, discovering later that he may be the only person who can help them get out of this hellhole alive.
While the story of Get the Gringo is fairly basic, it still could have been a very fun and effective action\crime film. The prison as a family community is quite a different concept from the one normally depicted (ie. daily shankings, stolen fruit-cups, and the dreaded shower scenes). The prison in Get the Gringo is certainly dangerous, but is much more of a functioning community. However, this is where the originality and fun ends. Many of the ‘bad guys’ are laughable, the action sequences uninspired, and the 95 minute run-time is one of the seemingly longest I’ve had to experience. Frequently while watching the film I wished that I would just put on Desperado and have a much more inspiring and entertaining night on the rough streets of Mexico. A particular gunfight, inexplicably shown almost entirely in slow motion could have been entertaining as an early film school project, but certainly not as part of a multi-million dollar production.
As I’ve said, Get the Gringo COULD have been an entertaining movie, although probably not a great one. However, too many poor decisions were made while making this one. A peek at the writing credits revealed Gibson to be the first author of the screenplay…this explained a lot for me.