Mel Gibson is back. OK, Mel Gibson was actually back in 2010 with the very good thriller Edge of Darkness, and in 2011 with not a bad character drama in The Beaver, but his latest film Get the Gringo, is outstanding. Gibson plays… well, you actually do not find out his real name in the entire film, but he is credited as Driver. This is due to the fact that the opening sequence is him in a clown mask fleeing from the police just on the U.S side of the border.
It is a great opening sequence, made more so with Gibson’s voice over narration, which is an interesting and well executed feature throughout the entire film. One thing leads to another and Driver ends up in Mexico where the police collude and decide to return him to the U.S and just forget the whole thing. This is until the Mexican police discover he is carrying a large sum of cash. At which point they decide it best to deal with it themselves. They steal the cash and bury him in a Mexican prison and this is where things really get interesting.
The prison itself is based on El penal de San Pedro (San Pedro prison) in La Paz, Bolivia. What this means is that it is basically a community within the prison. Whole families live inside and move in and out, only the prisoners must remain. Gibson’s character sums it up by observing - “It’s either the weirdest prison or the world’s shittiest mall.” The rich, drug dealers, live in comfort and have lavish parties, the poor live in squalor. Life reflects prison; prison reflects life in this film.
This setting is a great backdrop for Gibson to begin to scheme how to get his money back while avoiding the perils of the Mexican prison. He also has to deal with a corrupt police force, corrupt Embassy officials, gangsters inside the prison and the gangsters he stole the money from. All of which at one time or another in the film want to see him dead.
The real heart in this film lies between the relationship Gibson forms with fantastic young actor, Kevin Hernandez, who plays, ‘The Kid’ his prison ally. Without giving anything away Gibson and the kid become friends and this is the catalyst for Diver’s important character development. It is also a driving plot point within the film itself. The interplay between The Kid and Gibson is one of the shining aspects of this very good film. There are some great action scenes, good suspense, but for me the best part was to see Mel Gibson back and in excellent form. I would not hesitate in seeing this film again and again.