Much like with Tom Cruise, I can separate Mel Gibson’s personal life from his work as an actor. When he’s good, he’s good, and GET THE GRINGO is no exception. In fact, I think it’s a shame Gibson’s public image kept this from getting a real theatrical release because it’s a truly great hard-R crowd-pleaser.
GRINGO is very reminiscent of Gibson’s 1999 revenge flick PAYBACK (down to a painful torture scene involving toes); so much so that the unnamed main character of this movie could easily be an older, grizzled Porter. So if you’re a fan of that movie, you’ll definitely dig this one. It’s equally hard hitting—gruesomely violent in spots and with wicked sense of humor throughout. Not to mention that while the “gringo” of the title is likable as a character, he’s definitely not a nice guy. More importantly though, Gibson’s clearly having a blast in this role, relishing every hard boiled line of narration and every moment of sly triumph.
What sets GET THE GRINGO apart is the very unique setting at its core. Watching Mel Gibson lie, steal and kill his way through a Mexican prison sounds cool enough, but this is no ordinary jail. Based on real life locations (with extensive research done by Gibson and his crew), El Pueblito is a full-fledged prison town, where inmates can live in free communities with their families, eat/ shop/work as they please, and even leave—as long as they have the money to do it. It’s a really fascinating society to explore and it’s even more fun to watch Gibson learn and navigate his way through the system. There’s more than one classic sequence along the way, including a great, well-staged shootout. GRINGO definitely has a western feel to it, with the outsider coming to the corrupt town to clean it up. His attachment to the young Mexican boy and his mother is standard Hollywood stuff, but it provides a heart to rough movie and helps ground Gibson’s character in the right ways.
Though Gibson co-wrote and produces the film, his APCALYPTO assistant director Adrian Grunberg helms GRINGO and he does a commendable job. The movie is stylish when it needs to be, gritty when it should, and definitely doesn’t feel like a straight-to-DVD movie.
On Set: The Car Chase (3:37): No narration or interviews, just unfiltered footage from the filming mixed with finished clips to show you how each shot was pulled off.
On Set: The Showdown (4:10): A similar piece on the shootout sequence. I love seeing how squibs and bullets are rigged live.
On Set: The Raid (3:44): And one more BTS featurette focused on the film’s chaotic finale sequence.
You also get a Music Video for "El Corrido del Gringo," as well as DVD and Digital Copy.
Extra Tidbit: Gibson called Steve Jobs for the part of the businessman Mr. Kaufman. Jobs considered it for a week, but ultimately turned it down.