Monday, October 15, 2012

DVD Review: Get the Gringo (Adrian Grunberg, 2012)

Get The Gringo, which has troubled star Mel Gibson back in his element as a hardened and innovative tough guy, is not one to be fooled by. My personal aversion to Gibson (and his reputation will never ever be what it once was), and the fact that the theatrical release was preceded and accompanied by an awful promotional trailer, dissuaded me from ever watching the film.

However, giving it a chance on DVD, released recently through Icon Entertainment, the film left me pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was by Gibson’s no-holds-barred performance and the unashamedly trashy sentimentalities, sense of humour and wild gun play. Co-written by Gibson, Get The Gringo is directed by Adrian Grunberg (who had previously collaborated with Gibson as first AD on Apocalypto).
The introduction to Gibson’s character, the titular ‘Gringo’, is a memorable one. He’s wearing a clown mask and embroiled in a high-speed pursuit along the US/Mexican border. His partner is dying and spitting blood all over the back seat and the $2 million dollars in cash they have just ripped from a powerful mob boss. This over-excited and over-edited car chase sequence is a sloppy start, but after a dramatic crash, which has Gringo arrested by corrupt officials on Mexican soil, the film shifts to a cracking location – an elaborate town-like prison known as El Pueblito – and Get the Gringo settles down.

Gringo is a career criminal. He is a foul-mouthed chain-smoker and as we come to learn, a no-nonsense guy who knows how to handle a gun and arrange a caper. Watching Gibson skulk around the prison learning the lawlessness of the land, studying the hierarchy, ripping off fellow inmates and blowing up heroin dens that operate next to food services, is actually quite fun. He befriends an inquisitive ten-year-old inmate (a very good Kevin Hernandez, The Sitter), who lives with his mother, and he becomes a father figure and his personal protector when his life is threatened.
The narration, which is intermittent and seems to be addressing someone in Gringo’s life, is genuinely amusing. Gibson offers up plenty of cheek and wry one-liners and responses to the gangsters who are doubly intrigued by this madman and at the same time keep finding reasons to want him dead. Fun cameos from Peter Stormare as the mob kingpin missing a stack of cash, and Peter Gerety as a sweaty U.S Marshall give the series of interconnected subplots some extra life.

Get the Gringo is essentially a western-in-a-prison and Grunberg makes effective use of the excellent location. Gringo tags it ‘the world’s most fucked up mall’, a freewheeling dystopia based on an actual prison outside Tijuana.

This is a pulpy, brutal and funny film. The slow-motion shootouts are soaked with CGI blood, but there is still plenty of innovative staging and technique. Though it is logically challenged at times, it offers up droll comedy and an often-mesmerizing series of guns-blazing capers. Gibson gives it his all as the likeable protagonist who gets on the wrong side of everyone. Much to my surprise, it is enjoyable watching him take down a series of crooked gangsters and reclaim his loot. 

My Rating:  ★★★1/2 (B)

1 comment:

  1. Similarly to you Andy, I decided against this film earlier in the year, but I think it might be worth a watch now from reviews, including this one!

    Will give it a look :)