Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Get the Gringo

Ever notice what happens when a great professional athlete hangs around the game too long?  The experience of watching him/her perform as mere shadows of their former selves (and in some cases even worse) makes you forget how good they used to be at their craft.  This happened with Willie Mays; it happened with Carl Yastrzemski, and more recently with Shaquille O’Neal.  It’s only when you see their greatest hits highlight reel during one of those lifetime achievement moments that you remember their former greatness.  Sadly, I realized that this phenomenon is precisely what happened to Mel Gibson as I watched the movie Get the Gringo

I made a conscious decision to avoid Mel Gibson movies when he started to become the whipping boy for TMZ and the various dirt rags.  For an abundance of reasons, his life was in a state of flux and the tabloid journalist could smell the blood in the water.  He had long since stopped churning out Oscar nominated movies, but this kind of personal baggage would most assuredly mark the beginning of the end.  Sadly, I broke my stance to watch Get the Gringo and found that not only were the days of Braveheart and Lethal Weapon long gone, but also that Gibson’s current work was on the fast track to the $2.99 DVD bin at Walmart.  Simply put, Get the Gringo is that bad.

The plot follows Gibson’s character Driver, a serial criminal who is sent to a Mexican prison for robbery.  While in this small town that doubles as a jail, Gibson befriends a young boy and his mother both of whom live in the commune and aid him in navigating the unfriendly waters.  The boy is of particular interest to the crime boss who runs the joint because of his rare blood type and it is up to Gibson to save the boy, his mother, and find a way to break out of the prison.

Despite the stench that emanates from this film, there are a few things that do work a bit.  It is gritty and violent and every once in a while you see flashes of the old Gibson who is both sharp witted and menacing all at the same time.  But the plot is far-fetched and its mechanisms so over-to-top that the proceedings feel utterly cheesy.  The cast does little to remedy this, as most of the performances feel like the acting equivalent of painting-by-numbers.  Thus it is difficult to empathize with any of the major players so ultimately you feel as though you are watching portraits of random violence against the backdrop of a non-descript corrupt Mexican prison.

As I mentioned before, Mel Gibson truly is a shadow of his former self onscreen.  The sharp wit, the charisma, and the engaging persona have been replaced by a tired weathered delivery.  He motions across the screen like a punch drunk boxer who has endured a few rounds too many.  Sure ,in a lot of ways his performance is hindered by the poor screenplay for which he only has himself to blame (since he wrote it), but in his salad days, Gibson could take a mediocre script like Lethal Weapon 4 and make it great.

I don’t recommend this movie to the casual movie fan.  There are too many other titles in the subgenre that is the jailhouse narrative to settle for this brand of bad and there is very little entertainment value to be found in this film.  As for those ardent fans of Mel Gibson who watched everything from Mad Max to What Women Want, I would even more strongly suggest that you avoid this movie.  It can only tarnish your memories of what was once an A+ list acting/directing career.  Here’s hoping that Gibson can put his demons to rest, that Hollywood can forgive his transgressions, and that he can find that golden touch again.

Standout Performance: Peter Stormare.  He doesn’t get much screen time and his work always borders on campy, but the guy really knows how to play a greasy sleaze bag.  


Post a Comment