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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » May 31, 2012
Film review
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Get the Gringo
May 31, 2012   
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Adrian Grunberg had not directed a movie before Get the Gringo and was chiefly known to movie industry insiders as an assistant director working on pictures such as Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, Tony Scott’s Man on Fire and Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. As first assistant director, he worked with Mel Gibson twice, on Apocalypto and Edge of Darkness. Gibson had enough confidence in Grunberg to put him in charge of Get the Gringo. The two also wrote the script together.

Gibson is no longer basking in the success of the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series and the Oscar-winning Braveheart. After a string of drink-related antics and anti-Semitic outbursts, his glory days are over and the actor has been struggling to win back audiences and movie distributors.

In the United States he has hit big problems: Get the Gringo was not released in theaters and was only available as video-on-demand. Gibson was even asked to cover the $30 million costs of a movie theater release himself. He refused. Other countries did not impose such conditions, but things are not exactly rosy there either. In the ten weeks after opening, the Grunberg movie, which cost $20 million, made slightly over $2.5 million. Viewers have clearly turned their backs on the Australian actor. This became evident with the box-office flop of Edge of Darkness, which was in fact quite a decent thriller. The same happened to The Beaver by Jodie Foster, in which Gibson played the main role.

Get the Gringo’s lack of box-office success is somewhat unfair, because compared with Gibson’s classic movies, the new film is not a letdown. It is reminiscent of Brian Helgeland’s Payback from 1999 in that the character played by Gibson is a career criminal. His past is shrouded in mystery and he does not even have a proper name, going by the nickname of Driver. Like Gibson’s best-known character, Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon, Driver is a dab hand at sarcastic one-liners and no slouch at fisticuffs either, a combination that has appealed to the actor’s fans for decades.

The movie’s original title was How I Spent My Summer Vacation, which would have suited the main character’s penchant for sarcasm, given that “summer vacation” stands for time served in a Mexican prison camp governed by what Westerners might consider highly peculiar rules. The camp is run by criminal groups with easy access to guns, drugs and prostitutes. Driver winds up there after he is arrested by corrupt cops—who take the opportunity to unburden him of the money he has stolen a while earlier. Driver does not immediately have time to get even with the policemen, busy as he is trying to stay alive in a hostile environment. He finds an unlikely ally in a nine-year-old who knows the prison rules inside out. What happens next is pretty predictable to any action movie fan.
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