Review: Get the Gringo/How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Starring: Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez, and Peter Stormare
Plot: A career criminal (Gibson) escapes to Mexico after a big heist. Once there, he is arrested and thrown in jail while the arresting officers take his money.
The film takes place inside of a Mexican prison that is more like an enclosed shanty town. The inmates are allowed to freely move while inside the compound. They have jobs, currency, and stores and venues to spend that currency. I have absolutely no idea if this is accurate or not, but it is best not to dwell on the situation. While the place is technically run by a warden and security team, a rich and powerful gangster has the whole place in his pocket. The inmates are also allowed to bring in their family if they have enough money, but I believe they were allowed to leave. This leads Gibson to meet a new partner in crime, a spunky and resourceful 10 year old boy, who is tragically tied to the gangster in charge.
After causing a lot of misery for himself in his public life, Mel Gibson gets back to basics in Get the Gringo. It is as close to a Payback 2 as we will ever get. Mel Gibson plays a career thief and small time con artist who spins us a yarn with a trademark cynical narration. Gibson slips back into familiar territory as if he never left. His old charismatic self is on full display, yet at the same time he embraces his “advanced” age.
What I mean by that is, Get the Gringo is not a pulse-pounding action thriller. Besides the beginning car chase, the closest thing to a proper action scene is the shootout near the end of the film. The only thing that stops it from being incredible is that it is shot in slow motion, which seems to be mostly for Gibson’s age sake. It is more like a clever light-hearted thriller, if there is such a thing. Gibson is more of a mastermind than a bruiser here. He moves the pieces around like an expert.
The movie is really clever, but something about it just falls flat. It is never laugh out loud funny. It feels like it wants to be an uber cool crime caper in the same vain as Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie. It gets close, but it is missing some serious personality. The danger and stakes also feel kind of small time as well. If you knew what was at stake, you’d think I was crazy, but I guess it just works better on paper. I never felt like Gibson was ever in real danger, and I never believed that the boy was ever going to get taken advantage of. A certain random senseless murder near the end of the movie is the icing on the cake that this is a wannabe Tarantino/Ritchie caper.
The small lack of overall oomph from the movie does not stop it from being overall a fun watch. It is nice simply to see Gibson back in the saddle.