Get the Gringo (2012) Blu-ray Review

A movie review article by: Paul Brian McCoy
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Writers: Mel Gibson, Adrian Grunberg, & Stacy Perskie
Starring: Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Kevin Hernandez, Dolores Heredia

What do you do with a Post-Sugar-Tits Mel Gibson?

I mean the man is extremely talented both in front of and behind the camera; that's something that really can't be denied, despite what one might think of the ideologies that push his creative process. However, when religion and politics give way to abhorrent outbursts of racism and sexism, it can't just be overlooked as a Right vs. Left argument. And Gibson's abhorrent beliefs have been all over the news from his 2006 DUI arrest to the violently racist remarks toward the mother of his most recent child

These public (and not-so-public) meltdowns have led to something of a collapse of Gibson's career over the past six years. Some may argue that it's more about those conservative politics, but the anti-Semitism and vulgar verbal abuse make that argument irrelevant.

While he hasn't directed a film since 2006's Apocalypto, Gibson has also taken a break from acting, staying as far out of the limelight as his occasional outbursts will allow. But beginning in 2010, he returned to acting in Martin Campbell's Edge of Darkness and followed that up with Jodie Foster's The Beaver in 2011. Neither film garnered fantastic reviews, and both collapsed at the box office, despite Gibson's embracing of characters who seemed designed to help rehabilitate his public image without whitewashing him.

At the same time, however, Gibson began Googling "Mexican Prisons" (for some reason) and had an idea. He then teamed up with Adrian Grunberg and Stacy Perskie, both of whom had worked with him on Apocalypto, and over a series of casual meetings worked out the script for Get the Gringo (or How I Spent My Summer Vacation, as it was called in the UK). The film began with limited screenings in March of 2012, and was then released exclusively on DirectTV on May 1, before releasing on other VOD services.  Finally, on July 17, 2012 the Blu-ray hit the market to very limited fanfare.

The story is fairly simple and Gibson's character "The Driver" is another classic Mel Gibson role, the seriously flawed, but somehow loveable guy who can kick all kinds of ass, but the combination works this time despite what you might think of him as a person. Instead of the obvious "Father Avenging His Child" of Edge of Darkness, or the obvious "I've Got Serious Mental Issues" of The Beaver, here Mel is just a son of a bitch paying his dues who befriends a mother and child. There are no apologies and no attempts to make Gibson look forgivable.

It's a straight-up action flick that has more in common with that director's cut of Payback than with anything else the man has done in ten years. And as such, it's the most satisfying film Gibson has made in nearly as long.

So what do you do with a Post-Sugar-Tits Mel Gibson?

Do you sit back and enjoy the new work – because despite what we might think of the man personally, his work is always pure gold and driven – or do you let the man he is interfere with your enjoyment?

For me personally, I let the movie do the talking and found it to be refreshing, exciting, brutal, and unapologetic. It was surprisingly funny at times, too. What really brings it all home is the fact that all of the actors involved do exceptional work, particularly Kevin Hernandez as The Kid. He's a twelve year old playing a ten year old and holds his own with Gibson in every scene they share.

First time director is something of a misnomer for Adrian Grunberg. He's been in the business for almost fifteen years working as assistant director and second unit director for television and film in Mexico and for Mexico shoots like for Man on Fire, Legend of Zorro, and Jarhead. He and Gibson met when he worked as first assistant director on Apocalypto and then worked together again on Edge of Darkness.

His work has some flare, but he doesn't push things too far, never letting style interfere with the storytelling. Get the Gringo ends up being a film that would have been just as at home in the Seventies as it would if it had been released during the Nineties Post-Tarantino boom. Being released today, it stands out as a solid sort-of-noir, but there's not a lot of press for films like this at the moment.

Regardless, if you can supplant Mel Gibson-the-man for Mel Gibson-the-actor for the 96 minutes this film runs, and you like the career criminal capers of characters like Richard Stark's Parker, this might be something you should check out.

Special Features:

Get the Gringo – A Look Inside (18:01): This is a pretty nice look at the making of the film featuring interviews with Gibson, Grunberg, and Perskie. They discuss coming up with the ideas and putting the script together, as well as giving us a look into the actual production in a real decommissioned Mexican prison.

On Set – The Car Chase (3:38), On Set – The Showdown (4:10), On Set – The Raid (3:44): These three short featurettes give you a look at the behind the scenes of each of these set piece scenes, but there's not really anything other than roving camerawork. There's no discussion of the process or extra insight. More like being a fly on the wall than anything.

"El Corrido del Gringo" Music Video (2:58): If you like Mariachi music, this isn't too bad. Catchy.

Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot, Streaming Pile O' Wha?, and Classic Film/New Blu, all here at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.

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