Dir: Adrian Grunberg, 2012
After arriving with a literal bang on the Mexican side of the border, an American getaway driver is apprehended by authorities and relieved of his millions in stolen cash. The driver is dumped in a dangerous Tijuana prison as the only Yank prisoner. Upon meeting a ten-year-old boy and learning his story, the driver becomes suddenly aware that there’s someone on the inside who needs help more than he does.
It seems the cool thing these days to deprive your main character of a name. This one little (lack of) detail is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Gringo, as Mel Gibson returns to what he does best: wisecracking and kicking ass. Of course, Get the Gringo has plenty of both, supplying the titular character with plenty of one-liners and explosive action set pieces. Throw all that in what looks like an R-rated use of a set from Prison Break and entertainment is all but guaranteed.
The story is basic but with slight twists and tweaks, reminiscent of the writings of Shane Black. Clearly Mel has taken a leaf or two out of the book of a man who brought us the first two Lethal Weapon screenplays, although this seems more Kiss Kiss Bang Bang-inspired. There is a slight element of prejudice in the film, which is unsurprising when dealing with either a Mexican prison or Mel Gibson. Gibson’s script has an ever-present indication that the Gringo is faster, smarter and tougher than the Hispanic inmates. However, the dark comedy balances out the film and reassures us this is a yarn meant to be taken as seriously as Mel takes himself, “The ugly American, until now I thought it was me” – Gibson’s narration of the film is a delightful bonus.
Familiar ground is the location used for the Gibson’s welcome back party. So familiar, in fact, that Get the Gringo could realistically serve as a spin-off to Gibson’s 1999 film Payback. What’s more important is we have seen the first real glimpse of the Mel we know and love in a decade and at age 56 years young, he hasn’t lost his charm.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆