Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

We here at the FCU would like to take this brief moment to hope to the heavens that actor Mel Gibson is getting the help he so desperately needs.  Mel’s issues are well documented, and I’m of the opinion that once he left his long time wife of a hundred years his problems probably began, since I’m pretty sure she was instrumental in controlling his instabilities since she knew him so well.  28-year-old Super Models…. I’m thinking not so good at that, nor do they care.  The reason we want Mel to get better is because even though he might be a little racist… just go with me here… he is really, really good at what he does.  There’s not a lot of people out there better.  And ‘Get the Gringo’ is a really, really good movie.

Hell if I know what the character’s real name is that Gibson plays movie, since he goes by a bunch of names and has shaved fingerprints, but we can surmise that he’s kind of a rotten apple.  When we meet the guy he’s fleeing like a bat out of hell from the U.S. Border Patrol, obviously just having stole something, and as a last ditch effort crashes through the border fence figuring he’ll have an easier time with the Mexican authorities as opposed to the New Mexico authorities.  Once the arresting Mexican see the satchel with the 2 mil inside, they take this guy… let’s call him Joe just call him something… and he’s off to the local Mexican prison.

Now I have no idea how accurate this movie is in regards to Mexican prisons but what is portrayed here is a real trip.  According to this movie Mexican prisons are just little towns with barbed wire around them.  You can work, buy stuff, buy drugs, steal, kill on occasion if necessary, and do whatever you want.  You just can’t leave.  Even if you’re a gigantic criminal kingpin say like Javi (Daniel Jimenez Cacho) who has a reach that extends far beyond the barbed wire, but he can’t leave either. 

Joe, who is very resourceful, figures some things out, and plots out a few ways to make his life in this lockup a little more tolerable.  Then he meets The Kid (Kevin Hernandez)… I should mention that you can bring your family with you if you get locked up, like if you have nobody to watch them or anything.  Anyway, The Kid is a chain smoking profane nine year old who is being protected by Javi.  Not because of Javi is good person but for other… far more nefarious reasons.  Joe forms a solid relationship with The Kid and The Kid’s Mom (Delores Heredia), and the bond has become so tight that Joe has promised them that he won’t allow anything to happen to them. 

There are other issues in Joe’s increasingly complex life inside the barbed wire he has to deal with, say like the guy he stole from (Peter Stromare) wanting his money back and willing to do anything to get it back.  Plus he’s come to the attention of Javi the kingpin who is waffling on whether to use Joe to further his goals or just kill him and be done with him.  In retrospect he should’ve killed him, but what are you going to do?

And then there’s the promise he made to The Kid, with it looking like he’s not going to be able to keep that promise because something really bad is about to happen and I don’t see how Joe is going to make it in time.  You go Joe!  Or whatever your name is.  Criminals… I tell you.

There are a couple of things bogging down director Adrian Grunberg’s hugely entertaining ‘Get the Gringo’, one being a star that has a tarnish that is probably never going to go away, but secondly and more disconcerting for me personally, is that audiences just don’t pay to see these kinds of movies anymore.  Twenty years ago a movie with this star and this kind of action filled subject matter would be a big success.  Today… not so much.  Today this movie is probably going to get a one week, twelve theater run before going straight to DVD.  That’s too bad, but it is what it is. 

‘Get the Gringo’ takes on the risky proposition of being morally ambiguous, because our hero is a bad guy.  But then again, not really.  He’s actually a pretty decent guy that just does really bad things, where as everybody else in this movie, outside of the mother and child, is just completely reprehensible.  And even the mother and child are a little suspect.  Still, Gibson turns on his charm, gets us rooting for this character who does these bad things, telling us all about his character, not so much through words but through the weathered lines on his face and his actions, and if you buy into the gringo and what he’s all about, you’re pretty much trapped into buying into the entire ridiculousness of this movie. 

Oh… and it is completely… utterly… ridiculous.  From the completely insane first frames to the ‘no way in hell that could really happen’ final frames, ‘Get the Gringo’ is total nonsense.  But gosh darnit, it’s fun nonsense.  That is if you can have fun watching people get the backs of their heads peeled off with high powered rifles, stabbed, shot, slapped, tortured, abused, and blown up via hand grenade.  Normally that wouldn’t be a lot of fun, but we did mention that these people are really bad and kind of had it coming, right? 

What ‘Get the Gringo’ lacks in realism, it makes up for it in high energy and crazy, gritty violence.  Damn violent this movie.  Today’s demographic does enjoy a movie that lacks realism, but you better be wearing some tights, be a gay pirate or a sparkly vampire if you want to get their attention and their money.  We, however, appreciated this well orchestrated insanity, featuring an aging star still able to pull off something he does just about as well as anybody ever.  Here’s hoping he gets himself fixed up.

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