Mel Gibson's latest crazy rant went viral. Too bad his latest film went direct to satellite TV -- because it's better than half of what's playing in theaters.
"Get the Gringo," a film that can be seen on DirecTV's VOD service, opens with Gibson playing a character identified as Driver in clown makeup, behind the wheel of a car speeding across a desert highway while another clown bleeds to death in the back seat.
American police are in pursuit. Although Driver makes it to Mexico, just, he is soon locked up in a prison known as El Pueblito, where he must fend for himself in a barbed-wire and sweat-drenched nether-world in which prisoners are allowed to carry guns and bring their families behind bars with them.
Driver lives by his wits, chain-smokes and schemes to get his stolen money back. He also bonds with a prison urchin (the terrific Kevin Hernandez of "The Sitter") and the boy's mother (Dolores Heredia).
The film, co-written by Academy Award winner Gibson and first-timers Adrian Grunberg and Stacy Perskie (Grunberg directed), is a South of the Border crime drama wrapped inside an action movie in the shoot-'em-up-blow-'em-up style of the late, great Sam Peckinpah ("The Wild Bunch").
"Get the Gringo" also boasts an impressive amount of Mexican talent in front of and behind the camera and a strong supporting cast (Daniel Gimenez Cacho, Peter Stormare, Bob Gunton, Peter Gerety). Leading man Gibson carries the movie with aplomb and brings his usual mix of machismo, masochism, irreverence and one-liners. When asked for his name by a brutish policeman while still in the clown makeup, Gibson responds, "Bozo."
First-time director Grunberg was first AD on Gibson's 2006 period adventure "Apocalypto." Like "Apocalypto," "Get the Gringo" is remarkably atmospheric (the music especially is a standout), thanks largely to cinematographer Benoit Debie (I wish I had seen it on a movie screen, not a computer). Among Gibson's other duties are extensive voice-over narration and a scene in which he con-vincingly impersonates Clint Eastwood in a phone call, although in this case it's Gibson playing the man with no name. Thirty-three years after American-born Aussie Gibson emerged in the title role in George Miller's "Mad Max," he's gotten visibly older and notably leathery, and he's had a ton of probably deserved bad press. But he's as charismatic as ever, and a scene involving an umbrella will make you laugh out loud.
Gibson's screen time with Hernandez especially reminds you of the chemistry Gibson has had with a host of co-stars, especially Danny Glover in the world famous "Lethal Weapon" series. If you admire Gibson's screen work, you need to get this "Gringo."
("Get the Gringo" contains extreme violence, torture, profanity, drug use and sexually suggestive images.)