This is another in my list of underrated and forgotten movies. I think this one more or less passed by movie fans pretty much unnoticed. All I can say is if you are a fan of Mel Gibson’s 1980s comedy-action movies such as the Lethal Weapon series you will love this.
It is very much a serious attempt to recreate the atmosphere that made those movies so successful, and also to push away some of the very public ‘screw-ups’ Gibson has made over the last few years. And if I am honest this movie proves he still has that cheeky charm that made him such a huge star before his current demise, so well worth seeing.
Mel Gibson fan or not, you may have missed his re-emergence into the action anti-hero hero genre – that’s an action hero who’s doing a lot of non-heroic stuff like lying, cheating and stealing but somehow manages to redeem himself and act almost like a good guy in the final chapter. Get the Gringo is the vehicle, Mel Gibson is the driving force, and he’s actually called Driver for most of the film, in which he stars as an American crook thrown into a Mexican prison.
Get the Gringo was released in the UK the spring of 2012 under the title How I Spent My Summer Vacation and got mostly positive reviews, but in the U.S. it had literally a one-night stand, in just a handful of theatres in a few big cities. From there it went straight to DirecTV on a pay-per-view basis.
Gibson said in an interview that home viewing is ‘the future’ and he placed his bet on it for this film.
Get the Gringo 8 min feature
The story, written by Gibson with Adrian Grunberg, who also directed, involves a criminal who is actually quite smart but foolish enough to make off with a load of mafia money. Fleeing his pursuers he crashes through a Mexican border fence. He is promptly captured by corrupt Mexican police officers who grab the money and throw him in El Pueblito, a prison that’s much more like a criminal community circus than a ‘regular’ jail. Driver/Gibson becomes, of course, the Gringo.
As an experienced criminal himself, the Gringo quickly figures out and infiltrates the hierarchy of the prison; in between ‘social intercourse’ with the inmates and attempts by the Mafia and U.S. authorities to get the stolen $2 million back, he gets involved with a ten-year-old boy – Kevin Hernandez as the Kid – and his incarcerated mother, played by Dolores Heredia.
It turns out that the Kid is on a sort of organ donor hit list – he’s wanted by the prison’s chief bad guy, Javi, who needs a liver replacement, and the Kid is only one whose liver will do. In fact Javi has already killed the Kid’s father for his liver, and as the story moves along the situation comes down to the Gringo and the Kid pitting their survival skills against all sorts of bad and pseudo-good opponents. Quite a lot of Gibson’s old ‘Lethal Weapon’ persona emerges; he’s still got it, if anyone was wondering.
Get the Gringo is one of those fast-paced, hard-hitting, action-packed films that’s also very funny in a lot of places. It’s well written and undeniably well acted on the part of its main characters, especially Gibson and Hernandez; the Kid threatens to steal the show at times, but nobody could begrudge it to him. He’s just terrific as the old-for-his-years, tough little guy who would rather stab himself in the liver than hand said liver over to the crime boss.
This is also one of those rather rare action films in which almost none of the ‘good’ guys get killed but darn near all of the bad guys do. The happy ending may be a trifle contrived – of course it is – but it’s the only satisfactory ending to this underworld lark.
Get the Gringo Trailer