Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Icon Film Distribution
Now Showing

I'm not sure if Australia has a prisoner exchange program with Mexico, but given the conditions of incarceration depicted in Get The Gringo, one would certainly hope so should they happen to find themselves on the wrong side of the law in the South American country.

Driver (Mel Gibson) is already on the wrong side of the law -- the U.S. law -- having just robbed a bank. But when he crashes his getaway car through a fence, Driver also finds himself on the wrong side of the U.S-Mexican border.

At first the Mexican police are happy to let their American counterparts handle the arrest and the paperwork, until they spy the spoils of Driver's endeavours and decide possession is nine-tenths of the law; carting Driver off to a local prison and keeping the money for themselves.

This prison is nothing like Driver -- or the audience -- has encountered before: men and women -- and kids! -- mixing freely, along with alcohol and guns, and all overseen by a bathrobe-wearing gangster with a drinking problem and a dodgy liver.

The kingpin also has a rare blood type, which is why the young Kid (Kevin Hernandez) who befriends Driver (firstly for his cigarettes, then his protection), resides in the prison with his mother (Dolores Heredia) and doesn't attend school. As the saying goes, keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your potential lifesaving donors incarcerated.

Whilst preoccupied with escape, and getting his stolen cash back, Driver also develops a conscience and decides he's not about to let any harm befall his little buddy. And it's this relationship between Gibson's Driver and Hernandez's Kid that becomes the driving force of the film: the pair have a winning chemistry, certainly more so than Jason Statham and his young charge in the recent Safe.

Get The Gringo is also a lot more fun than that film, and surprisingly so. Amid the bullets, bashings and bloodshed, there's a good dose of black humour. And while Driver's voice-over narration tends to grate, Gibson's laconic swagger (granted a little more grizzled than we're used to), reminds us of the Gibson of old, which is to say the younger Mel, circa Lethal Weapon.

Co-written by Gibson with director Adrian Grunberg, Get The Gringo shows the one-time action man doing what he once did best, before he retreated behind the camera to direct (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto), and before his on-screen persona became tarnished by his off-screen behaviour.

That may be one of the reasons Get The Gringo fails to capture a larger audience (and why it's bypassing cinemas in the U.S., going direct to Video On Demand), and I can completely understand people boycotting Gibson's films as an act of protest.

But like The Beaver last year, the odd but not unlikeable film directed by Jodie Foster which boasts one of Gibson's best performances, Get The Gringo is not without interest or entertainment value.

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