If you’re like me and are a devout lover of Brian Helgeland’s director’s cut of PAYBACK where Mel Gibson plays Donald Westlake’s PORTER… then you’ve wanted, rather desperately, for Mel Gibson to return to this kind of testosterone fueled hardass filmmaking. Apparently, so has Mel.
He wrote and financed GET THE GRINGO with his co-writer & Director Adrian Grunberg. This was the film Mel wanted to do and he put his money where his mouth is – and I absolutely get why it isn’t necessarily a studio film… Shit happens in this movie, shit that doesn’t happen in their kinds of films. I won’t say what, because if I did well, I’m not that kind of asshole.
Imagine… Porter, he’s only ever referred to as the ‘Driver’, so I’ll just call him PORTER because it suits the way I see this tremendously badass film. You’ve seen shots of Mel driving in a clown disguise like a bat out of hell, making for the border like a possessed driving demon. I have to say. It was nice to see Mel driving in arid… possibly outback-ish looking desolation like a mad man. Really, tremendous. What has him in this situation, what is going on? Well, essentially, “Porter” pulled a job on a particularly unsavory bad man and was making off with a few million and a dream of South American retirement. Not that it’d necessarily ever work out for a man like “Porter”.
After Mel pulls of wickedly ill-fortuned “Dukes of Hazzard” into Mexico… only to total his car right smack dab into the loving hands of the Mexican Border Patrol. They are, of course, corrupt opportunistic bastards that have a prisoner with millions, a dead bloody partner in the back seat and no desire at confessing an identity… so they do what comes natural. Take the money for themselves and stick our “Porter” into the most amazing cinematic prison that I’ve yet seen. Now, my 3 favorite prison films are WHITE HEAT, RUNAWAY TRAIN and THE GREAT ESCAPE. They’re not endangered… but this is a fucking amazing flick. It is essentially how I imagine Sam Peckinpah would’ve handled Porter's Mexican Prison Adventure.
The best character in the film is this Prison. Based on a real Mexican Prison where if you’re sentenced there, your family can live with you in prison. Prisoners set up businesses within the prison. There’s a tent fucking day. There’s a heroin shack. There’s a criminal prison boss… and every guard is corrupt. All you need in this prison to live real good is money.
Porter enters penniless and empty-handed… and he has a wicked smoking habit. Not a good thing. But this bastard has the cast iron balls of Porter and Porter just takes what the fuck he feels is his.
Mel’s nameless character is being squeezed on all sides. It’s a matter of time till the mob in the U.S. discovers where the Border Guards dumped him, there’s an American sleazebag journalist trying to shake him down, there’s a kid trying to learn how to kill a man from him, there’s a woman – a helluva woman, but most of all it’s rich with character – like an old John Huston flick. The people that make up this prison have a history and a vibe to them.
When shit goes violent… it’s hard core. There’s a reason Mel’s wanting to skip theatrical… This becomes a very hard film. The kind of film that we love when he does, but that isn’t necessarily always given the happy story at the box office. I’m so happy that AICN is going to get to present this film for the theatrical experience in as many cities as we could arrange. Before it hits the at home format. Sure, it’ll be great there, but oh man. The shit that happens in this film is best experienced with an amped up audience taken in communally with a respectful film loving audience.
This is a very hard R. A little shocked it got that actually.
But this is exactly the kind of Mel Gibson film I love. Cold, Hard & Brilliantly Badass.
I love characters that know the lay of the land, that can see the angles and the blind spots. A man that performs exquisitely Buster Keaton-esque timing. He’s a man that knows the steps through life. He’s not afraid of the knocks and he isn’t afraid to heal. But in the end, have no doubt… this is a man that gets hard shit done. Justice as he sees it will be done. Yeah. Such a satisfying film experience.
Can’t wait to share this one with y’all!