Get the Gringo
Friday, June 22, 2012 8:45:59 PM
"Get the Gringo" (or "How I spent my Summer Vacation") starts with Driver (brilliantly played by Mel Gibson) a k a "The Gringo" and his mortally wounded partner, both in clown costumes, driving like hell down a highway with the cops chasing them.
Driver realizes that he can't escape, so he smashes his car through the TexMex border fence, and the Mexican police arrest him. The Texas police try to persuade the Mexican officers to hand the two men back into U.S. custody, but one single glance at two huge bags bulging with a couple of million dollars on the back seat of the car prompts the Mexicans to keep Driver and his "colleague" on their side of the line.
The Mexican police officers "confiscate" the money and put Driver into a very special prison called "El Pueblito". It’s special because the inmates can chose to get their families to live with them, and because some of the prisoners seem to actually run the prison. Driver meets a 10-year-old kid (excellently played by Kevin Hernandez) who is plotting revenge on another criminal, Javi (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), who killed his father. The 10-year old's mother and father were incarcerated for selling narcotics and the boy and his mum are still inside.
"El Pueblito" did actually exist. It’s true that the families of inmates were allowed to live inside the prison walls with them, and it was a thriving community, with residences traded like real estate and drugs and firearms openly sold as commodities. Prisoners were able to shop freely and the drug trade was so viable that it became pertinent in upholding the facility’s economy. The prison was in fact shut down back in 2002, after it was raided by two thousand law enforcement officers. Amazing, huh?
You never really know for certain where things are heading in this movie. There's a couple of sub-plots to keep it moving – someone is looking for the money that Driver and his buddy stole, and we find out the reason why the boy's father was killed, and why the boy and his mum are kept safe by Javi. Then there's the sleazy American on the outside, trying to... yes, well... there's plenty of action going on, and plenty of black humour amongst the violence and gunplay.
Mel Gibson gets older, yes, but he's still got that twinkle in his eye and mischievous grin on his face. His character is morally dubious but charismatic, and it is easy to root for him as the other bad guys are so much worse. Plus he actually shows morality, however strange that may sound, knowing that he plays a hard core, slightly unhinged criminal. The other characters are all pretty good too – the inmates, cops and external baddies are all played with much style and deadpan wit.
The prison scenes are all pretty well constructed and believable too – in fact much of it was actually filmed in a Mexican prison.
I was very positively surprised over this movie. I didn't expect much, but I was highly entertained. We had a good amount of laughter, tension and action sequences – and although I guess ultimately predictable in its ending, the plot twists and turns and never gets boring, and never lets us down. It's Mel Gibson doing what he does best... being the likeable, unpredictable and off-the rails tough guy in an entertaining action movie.
out of 6.