aka GET THE GRINGO
(Adrian Grunberg, 2012)
Just when it seemed as if Mel Gibson had forgotten the secret of his own appeal as a movie star, he co-writes and finances a vehicle for himself that demonstrates that he knows exactly what once made him so watchable onscreen. As a director, his best characteristic is the tremendously strong visual storytelling evident in both Braveheart and Apocalypto. That is a feature of this film too, directed as it is by Gibson's protege Adrian Grunberg, presumably with Gibson in close attendance.
He plays the nameless Gringo, imprisoned in a hellish, massive Mexican prison having stolen $2 Million from a Californian crime boss. Inside, he has to learn the ropes and figure out how to survive and retrieve his money, currently in the hands of the Mexican cops who caught him.
Gibson's character has a little of Richard Stark's Parker to him, tough and smart and ruthless as he is, and Gibson plays him with much of his old wit and twinkly charisma. Even more vivid is the setting; this prison is a world unto itself, with shops and families and a rigid class system, and the film is at its colourful best detailing its quirks.
There are a couple of nice action scenes, a few good gags, a cast full of great Mexican faces, and it is a solid slice of b-movie pulp, tailor-made for it's star.