Saturday, April 27, 2013

Instant Action: Get the Gringo (2012)

I'm not sure if most people would use the word charming to describe Mel Gibson, but I will!

Written By: Mel Gibson, Adrian Grunberg, & Stacy Perskie
Directed By: Adrian Grunberg

I completely understand the amount of backlash directed towards Mel Gibson in recent years. As a human being he deserves all the derision he has received, and then some. Mr. Gibson is not a pleasant human being, or someone whom I would choose to associate with if he lived down the block from me. However, I always try to separate the person from their art. In the case of Mr. Gibson that means removing his woman hating and racism from the equation and focusing on him solely as an actor and director. I have no qualms proclaiming that I am a big fan of Mel Gibson, the artistic talent. I've enjoyed just about every performance of his that I've seen, and Mr. Gibson is one of the few big time Hollywood stars in recent times who I would say is just as much of an actor as he is a star. As a director Mr. Gibson is a formidable talent, with a a visual eye that has always impressed me. Taking all of that into account it shouldn't be surprising that Mel Gibson, the actor, straps Get the Gringo to his back and carries the film to all of its success.

As I said in the teaser, it's not easy to think of Mr. Gibson as charming. But, as an actor, that's exactly what Mr. Gibson is. He is gruffly charming in a way that gives his character in Get the Gringo a worn out feel. The cracks in his skin and the tired look in his eyes aren't just an act, they are a part of his being. The key to Mr. Gibson's performance in Get the Gringo is that he accomplishes said worn out feel effortlessly. I never got the sense that Mr. Gibson was trying to feel worn out, he just is and that suited his character of Driver just fine. The camera loves Mr. Gibson, and there's no reason that it shouldn't. His presence is magnetic and it is in Mr. Gibson's acting abilities that the film gains and loses all of its momentum.

Unfortunately all of the supporting characters in Get the Gringo are rather weak. The setting of the prison is a nice one, and it is populated with a number of colorful characters. The characterization of those colorful characters is paper thin, and that leads to problems whenever Mr. Gibson is not on screen. The relationship between Driver and the characters of Kid and Kid's mom are a prime example of the characterization problems in Get the Gringo. They have a solid base of a relationship, one that's interesting enough on its own. As the film moves forward the relationship stays at the same level because the supporting characters stay exactly the same. There's never enough emotional, or character, honesty given to the Kid or Kid's mom for me to care about them beyond being people associated with Driver. This is a problem throughout most of the film, and it does hurt the film a fair amount when the screenplay asks the shallow supporting characters to take over for Driver.

The action and violence in Get the Gringo is quite stylish and well done. I was especially fond of the way the film used blood, particularly the darkness of the blood on display. It's a small matter, but in a gritty film said grit is helped when a dark red glob of blood accompanies a guy getting shot in the eye. The opening chase scene was refreshing, and one of the few car chases in recent memory that is actually exciting. The penultimate showdown at the prison isn't so much an action set piece as it is a dramatic set piece for Driver with action moments inserted to mix things up. Still, the action in Get the Gringo was well done and captured my interest throughout. There's a grittiness to the violence and action in Get the Gringo that I appreciated, and I'm always down for some well done gritty blood and guts.

As a reclamation project I'm not sure that Get the Gringo succeeds. Mr. Gibson is great in his role of Driver, and the film on the whole is pretty darn good. But, as an actor Mr. Gibson never needed to undergo reclamation in the first place. He may be a scumbag of a person, but he's always been a great actor and Get the Gringo serves as further proof of that. In a day and age of codified and glossy action films, the grit and dirt of Get the Gringo is a welcome change of pace. Get the Gringo won't blow anyone away, but any fan of classic blood and guts action violence should come away from Get the Gringo with a smile on their face.



Bill Thompson


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