Wednesday 17 August 2022

Movie Review: Get The Gringo (2012)

An action thriller, Get The Gringo mixes mean humour, plenty of violence, and many sweaty characters, all of them up to no good.

Dressed as a clown and frantically escaping with millions in stolen cash, an audacious thief (Mel Gibson) crashes his car across the border wall and into Mexico. He is promptly arrested by corrupt Mexican border guards, who also steal the stolen money. Known only as the Gringo, the thief is thrown into El Pueblito prison, which in reality is a ramshackle city run by crime lord Javi (Daniel Giménez Cacho) and his goons. The Gringo starts to chart his way through the prison's social structure, and befriends the scrappy 10-year Kid, who is in the prison with his Mom (Dolores Heredia).

Javi has a special reason to pay attention to the Kid, and becomes more interested in the Gringo when he learns about the stolen money. Meanwhile, corrupt US Embassy official (Peter Gerety) is intrigued by what the Gringo may be hiding, while the original victim of the theft, San Diego-based master criminal Frank (Peter Stormare), is determined to get his money back and extract revenge by any means.

An irreverent, almost cartoonish adventure, Get The Gringo offers large dollops of silly fun. Co-writer and co-producer Mel Gibson narrates with a Bugs Bunny attitude, and director Adrian Grunberg doesn't pause long enough for any of the plot gaps to undermine the entertainment value. This is a high-paced, self-aware romp where nothing is too serious, but plenty of people are nevertheless badly hurt.

All the characters are criminals of the past, present, or future (or all three), including Mom and her 10-year-old son, who is already plotting a murder as intensely as he badgers for cigarettes. The Gringo is just the most well-adjusted of all the bad guys, navigating his way out of every jam and straight into the next, usually bigger, mess, but always somehow finding time to instigate his own brand of trouble.

Most of the action takes place at El Pueblito, here presented as a vibrant world for the Gringo to discover. The shanty town is filled with entrepreneurs, everyone from drug dealers, taco peddlers, tattoo artists, real estate agents, and guards out to make a buck as long as Javi gets his cut. Grunberg esures something nefarious is happening in every corner, and bathes the visuals in reds, yellows, and oranges expressed at maximum heat. When the time comes for the bullets and grenades to fly, a combination of slow motion cinematography and surreal staging underline the campy mood.

A liver transplant surgery subplot, Clint Eastwood impersonations, a mass federal police raid, Pancho Villa's gun, a surrogate father-son bond, and hints of romance are all somehow jammed into the 96 minutes. Get The Gringo is never short of ideas, most of them of the all-out-wacky variety.

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