Get the Gringo is a gritty action film with a dark sense of humor and a terrific performance from a grizzled Mel Gibson.
The film features Gibson spending his summer vacation in a Mexican prison, dropping the occasional sarcastic quip, and killing lots of bad guys – or at least guys that are a little more on the shady side of the law than his character.
Directed by Adrian Grunberg (who co-wrote the screenplay with Gibson and Stacy Perskie), the film has a stripped down barebones look to its production value and cinematography work which helps sell its dark story.
With Gibson providing voiceover narration and playing a character that is more than a little hard for the audience to like, the film reminded me quite a bit of 1999’s Payback and the work Gibson did with the Porter character in that film. A dream Gibson talks about during the movie also easily reminds of Porter’s story in Payback.
Get the Gringo opens with Gibson sporting a clown mask as he is trying to escape the cops. His partner (also sporting a clown mask) is shot in the backseat and bleeding all over the money – despite Gibson telling him to stop.
In an attempt to avoid the cops, Gibson jumps the fence separating the U.S. and Mexico border. The Mexican police are more than happy to hand him back to the U.S. authorities until they discover the $1.7 million his character (who never has a clear name but goes by Driver and Gringo along with various other names) has in the vehicle.
Arrested, Gibson’s Gringo lands in a Mexican prison that is the size of a small town, and populated by more than the average prisoners. Whole families reside in the prison (criminals can move their loved ones there for a price), and most of the criminals are better armed than the guards that are supposed to be keeping them behind bars.
The entire place is run by an inmate named Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho) and his brothers. They keep the other inmates in line by supplying them with drugs, women, food, shelter, and pretty much anything they could get on the outside.
Everything has a cost, but Gibson quickly finds clever ways to pick up some cash here or there (scenes that will remind some of Payback’s opening minutes). He also grudgingly befriends a young boy (Kevin Hernandez) and the boy’s mother. It appears Javi has a bad liver and the boy is special since he is a match for a donor – whether he wants to donate his liver or not.
The film moves along at a somewhat predictable pace with Gibson growing closer to the boy and his mother; plotting a way out of the prison; figuring out just how he is going to get revenge on the people who dumped him there; and also how he is going to get his money back. He also snarls, growls and smokes a lot of cigarettes.
Although the plot is familiar and the twist are easy to see coming, Get the Gringo is a great ride thanks to Gibson’s performance – both on the screen and as the film’s narrator. He is older and a bit rougher around the edges (his voice seems more gravely than early in his career), but all of those elements just make his Gringo character more entertaining.
The film has a dark sense of humor (such as Gibson robbing a man as he is on the toilet or some of the one-liners he delivers at the perfect time) and gets a tad disturbing towards the end (when Javi comes looking for his liver), but from the start the audience knows what kind of movie they are getting.
Fans of Gibson’s action films or the crime/dark comedy genre will find plenty to like in Get the Gringo. The film has a straight-forward and even indie feel and look to it. It won’t go down as one of Gibson’s best movies, but is entertaining from start to finish – as long as you know what you are getting and are willing to the Gringo take you for a ride.
Get the Gringo is available on Direct TV.