Get the Gringo (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Get the Gringo (2012)

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It's right about here when our normal rating system suffers a complete meltdown.  The events are rare, but they occur often enough that I wish there was an image of my melting head bursting from the tight confines of a genre-appropriate tank top I like to wear.  Am I suffering needlessly or is this the time to engage in some jouissance?  Do I embrace the power of celebrity or is it time to admit some people are just despicable human beings?  More importantly, is any Mel Gibson movie in the next three years going to exist without some kind of meta-commentary?

I'm going with no based on his performance and writing in Get the Gringo.  He's an amazing talent, capable of the kind of rugged do-goodery that we embrace Harrison Ford for and the psychotic abyss Michael Shannon has become prolific at portraying.  Gibson is no man and everyman, he is the dark enigma lurking behind the American psyche, the colonial edge of our once expanding nation that just so happens to demean minorities and women.  If that's not American, especially where head in the sand films are concerned, then I'm open to suggestions for a reasonable substitute.

Now he plays the lone white gunmen introduced in an opening sequence that rips off the homage of Reservoir Dogs as reinterpreted by Frisky Dingo.  There are clowns bleeding in an escape car ripping across the Mexican border while pursue by Breaking Bad's Hank (who I'll spare an actor credit here because of the embarrassing broadness of his performance) embracing all the negative aspects of ooooh-rah American war on drugs action and a similar Mexican stereotype spouting dialogue about how one country is willing to hide the darkness, while the other accepts it.

I'm not lost so much as conflicted.  Is this a parody of our can-do American exceptionalism or a a warning cry of what will happen if we slip even further left?If anything, I love the way this film plays on Gibson's past as a post-apocalyptic survivor.  There are many scenes in the movie that recall his glory days in the Mad Max films.  The way he's introduced is just as natural, The Gringo (Mel Gibson) has always been a rotten bandito running from the law.  During a clown-based heist he is hauled back across the border into Mexico where he's indoctrinated into a prison that is as much a drug and sex filled Club Med as it is a containment center.

The introduction of this dusty hole is enticing.  Whether that was intended by part of the director (Adrian Grunberg) or star / screenwriter Gibson I will leave up to you.  But they both seem to enjoy the dusty south-of-the-border Amsterdam substitute, Gibson barely suppressing a smirk and Grunberg luxuriating over the drugs and tattoos a bit too readily.  This isn't intended as a negative, the underworld here is as evocative as I've seen recently, perfectly portraying a self-contained shell of abuse and dependance.

In a way, it reminded me of the anarchic films of Dušan Makavejev, the Serbian director of W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism and Montenegro.  For a little while, it seemed like anything might be possible so long as it is pleasurable.  It is not an ethical society but many standard definitions, but it functions and keeps the people inside alive.  The bubble of this hedonistic paradise lasts about ten minutes before it is completely blown, but it was enough to make a very strong impression on me.Almost immediately afterward, Gibson's Gringo goes about fixing everything to save a little boy he decided to become a father figure to.  Moreso, he decides to tame a wild lady of the night, who so happens to be the boy's mother, and ends up making her a sort of wife.  Slowly he brings a clenched fist around the community, killing many of the free denizens, and eventually retiring to a boring life on the beach.

For those of you who like the subtext spelled out, please allow me the pleasure of doing so in as few caveman syllables as possible.  "White man bring peace to backward cave."  Ah, there's the Mel Gibson subtext we've grown unfortunately used to looking for.  The Gringo's influence is not a welcoming one because this is not a world that craved stability to begin with, worse it's another example of an overbearing white male authority figure crushing the local populace to his rule.

Do we really need this?  More importantly, is this a movie that needs to exist beyond it's run-time?  No, and no.  I hated the politics of Get the Gringo because that kind of, let's face it, white supremacy needed to go away a long time ago.  But I can't deny that Gibson knows how to write a character that is compelling while he's onscreen, and Grunberg knows how to stage a scenario very convincingly.

This isn't of the same significance as Birth of a Nation, but damn if it isn't the same backwards blend of artistry and bigotry.

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Get the Gringo (2012)

Directed by Adrian Grunberg.
Starring and screenplay written by Mel Gibson.
Peter Stormare is in this too if that helps.

Posted by Andrew

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