Get the Gringo (2012)

(Netflix Streaming, February 2017) Featuring Mel Gibson in top-bruiser mode, Get the Gringo shows what can happen when an American career criminal gets caught in a Mexican jail. The place looks like a ghetto more than a prison, and much of the film’s fun is seeing the protagonist learn the system in order to exploit it. From the first smashing action sequence to the last comforting moment of the happy epilogue, Get the Gringo is a modest triumph of execution and sheer fun film-watching. As far as wry criminal thrillers go, it’s a success. Gibson is clearly the film’s anchor: he co-produced the film, his role is clearly heroic, his narration works well at making the film even more fun and the way he uses his persona here is quietly fascinating. This is the sarcastic self-assured Gibson: tough, funny, smart, threatening, knowledgeable and charming at once. It’s a kind of character that Gibson’s off-screen tabloid fodder actually enhances. As a comeback vehicle, it feels far better than 2010’s Edge of Darkness even if it’s less respectable. As a criminal action film with streaks of comedy, Get the Gringo gets full marks: it’s fun, fast and neatly wrapped up, feeling like a semi-sequel to 1999’s Payback. It’s a shame that its direct-to-video profile lowered its profile so much, but I see that’s gotten quite a bit of attention lately. It’s well worth its 90 minutes, especially for those who want to see Gibson at the top of his game, or are looking for a light-hearted crime thriller.

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