Happy Monday stargazers! I’m still picking through the list of must-watch Netflix films and ran across a Mel Gibson film of all things. After his social crash and burn a few years back, the public hasn’t seen much of him on the big screen. Get the Gringo is a film I was curious enough to add to my queue, but not so much so that I’d taken the time to sit down and watch. Trusting the list’s promise of great things ahead, I finally gave it a whirl.
A couple of clowns are making a run for the Mexican border with U.S. Border patrol in hot pursuit. Don’t misunderstand; these are two actual clowns, or at least two people dressed as clowns, one of which is bleeding profusely in the back seat while the Driver (Mel Gibson) rains expletives on him about staining his hard-stolen money. The pursuit ends with one clown dead, the Driver imprisoned in El Pueblito, and the corrupt Mexican police spending the two-million dollars they found all over town. In El Pueblito the Driver befriends the Kid (Kevin Hernandez) while trying to figure out how to survive in this odd communal environment. A crooked Embassy worker (Peter Gerety) offers his help for a slice of the pie of course, but Driver has already set his sights on the business of Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho), the prison’s kingpin/guest of honor whose family runs things. The Driver concocts a plan to get him, the Kid, and his mom (Dolores Heredia) out of the joint and reclaim his stolen money, plus the other two-million the crooked cops never found. That is assuming he can swindle Javi and avoid the hitmen sent to retrieve the money for the mobster Frank (Peter Stormare).
Ever since Get the Gringo surfaced on Netflix, the consensus was it was pretty much Payback in Mexico. In fact, some have claimed it’s a unsanctioned sequel to Payback, especially considering the main character is never given a name and he’s a professional thief in the vein of Payback‘s Porter. The only one who knows is Mel Gibson who penned the script, but until he tells, take it for what it is.
What Get the Gringo is, is a dingy dirty thrill ride brought to the screen by assistant director turned first-time director Adrian Grunberg. The Driver is tossed into a hole, assuming he’ll be swallowed whole by the thugs and murderers along side him. What the crooked cops didn’t realize is the Driver has been in similar, if not worse situations before and he just needs to make a few adjustments to make a life for himself in El Pueblito. Gibson’s hardened criminal persona is a clever boy, pushing buttons as needed and moving the pawns around him to reach his bigger goal of riches-filled freedom. Driver sees potential in the Kid, a ten-year old who lives with his incarcerated mom within the prison. He’s got an eye for detail and an itch for vengeance against Javi. Driver sees how the Kid’s skills and motivation can be used to solve both their problems.
Prison life can be rough at times, so expect a good bit of foul language and a handful of vicious altercations. Though it’s in a prison, there are more than a few shoot-outs that are quite high in body count and brutality. It may sound strange, but the results are indisputable; Gibson’s story is a wild, clever ride that should not be missed. The only thing I hate about Get the Gringo is that I waited so damned long to give it chance.