For a while, this film was advertised as How I Spent My Summer Vacation, and it seemed like the film would be getting a bigger release. Who knows what really happened, but in the meantime, the film’s name was changed to Get the Gringo and Mel Gibson had another freakout, this time with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who is famous for writing Showgirls and Basic Instinct. Somewhere in there, the film also was seemingly forgotten about, but has now been released via VOD by DirecTV and will hit DVD soon from 20th Century Fox.
I can only imagine the Gibson controversy is what got it relegated to a second class release, as it’s still going to theaters worldwide. The film is a typical Mel Gibson action film, and it’s the type of character Mel loves to play. It’s basically Donald E. Westlake‘s Parker, who Gibson has played before in the film Payback. He plays a nameless character who has made off with someone’s money, and once he gets to Mexico, the Mexican police take the matter into their own hands, taking his money and throwing him in a crappy prison/city, El Pueblito.
There, he schemes on how to get his money back while learning the machinations of the system, and meeting a young boy (Kevin Hernandez) and his mom, who suffer at the hands of the man that runs the prison. While the plot slowly unravels, we learn who the main character has stolen the money from, and he charms and cons his way to getting his money back and letting everyone kill each other in the meantime.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the tone of the film, while most of it is comedic in that hard-edged Mel Gibson manner, but there is a tremendous amount of prolonged graphic violence throughout the film, which I suppose is another thing that has shown itself in a lot of Gibson’s films. Here, he leaves official directing duties up to Adrien Grunberg, but anyone familiar with the two cuts of Payback know that Mel likes to do things his way whether he’s directing or not. Seeing as how he had a hand in the creation of the film, I’d say it’s a safe bet that a lot of this movie is Mel’s vision, and oddly enough, it’s an interesting choice where Mel could get away from Hollywood, which he desperately needed to.
So while the man may indeed be a terrible bigot, he can still make an entertaining action/crime film if you can handle his snarky characters and put your personal feelings about him aside for a second. The film is well shot, with a competent plot and it stays consistently entertaining throughout the run time. The cast, including Peter Stormare, Bob Gunton, and Dean Norris are doing what they do best, small character roles with aplomb. These days, that seems like a lot to ask of an action movie, at least it’s one thing Mel Gibson can still do right.