Where do you start with a Mel Gibson Film? First off, we need to dispense with what I consider totally uncalled for Hollwood cliche and gunplay whackery and quackery. I hope that I am not alone on this, but the trademark Mel Gibson automatic side-ways shooting thing should end, hopefully before Mel’s career does. The vast majority of authoritative gun experts say there is every disadvantage and no advantage whatsoever in using this form of gunplay. Mel has played every kind of criminal, cop, action hero or pistolero there is. But whatever his role, no matter how sleazy or cheesy, he has always been a very sharp guy in his role. So why does he use this side gun technique worthy only of a punk wanna-be gangster? The ultimate idiocy in this technique is when the side-wielding punk pushes the pistol forward as he is shooting. As if that will make the bullet go faster. It is almost impossible to hit anyone or anything with this technique.
I was so bothered by this that I did some research; and yes there might be one advantage to side fire…If you are running away from the scene of the crime and you want to slow down pursuit, it is possible to turn the wrist parallel to the ground and fire off a couple of backward rounds without slowing down much at all. It is an advantage over the classic stance in this respect. But Mel doesn’t use this technique for running away. He usually uses it running forward or sideways. Please Mr. Gibson, just drop it.
Other than that, I loved the movie. The Mel-Man is doing what he does best, that is being his own bad self, cracking wise, getting into trouble, then against all odds, overcoming it, with aplomb and a certain street flair as well.
The movie was originally titled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Only changing later to “Get The Gringo.” There are three major roles and Mel takes on two of them, First, he is the protagonist, everything revolves around him, secondly, he stars as the narrator, relating some of the inner workings of his character. There is the minor issue of just who he is talking to. But there is a nice balance here, and the technique works. It allows the movie to move forward to do what it does, which is to be an action movie, and at the same time gives us the inside scoop on our “hero’s” thoughts and motives. The third star of “Get The Gringo” after Mel Gibson’s dual role is played by Kevin Hernandez. He is a very special kid in the Mexican penitentiary called “El Pueblito” meaning small town and village. In many ways the inmates run the show, and anything anyone could want is available at a price. Which is the way it is in Mexico and throughout Latin America. In many ways it’s a loony tune system, but if your a rich organized crime figure, you live like a king.
So the plot revolves around the kid. Mel Gibson in all his roles is never much more than half bad, so the cynical, hard boiled thief and criminal gets involved in doing the right thing. Meantime he is somehow managing to stay alive in a mix of corrupt Mexican Police, a corrupt American Consulate official, California gangsters that he has robbed, and a drug cartel that uses him, but is always on the verge of whacking him. It is all artfully managed. There is violence and torture, but hey, that’s Mexico these days. The story wouldn’t be real without it.
In an earlier column (the trailer is availabe here) we covered some of the specifics of a Gibson movie and the particular set of issues that go along with it. Suffice it to say, that while there are younger action stars out there, it’s hard to imagine anyone pulling off this movie like Mel Gibson.
One more note; part of the authenticity of the movie comes from filming in Brownsville Texas and Veracruz Mexico and on location sites that many a film maker will now avoid.