Lately, Mel Gibson's offscreen bad antics have really ruined his reputations as a Hollywood's A-list superstar. His previous two "comeback" movies, EDGE OF DARKNESS (2010) and THE BEAVER (2011), failed to ignite box-office success. This year, the once-bankable superstar attempts to make (yet) another comeback in a tongue-in-cheek, neo-noir thriller titled GET THE GRINGO (previously known as HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION). Here, Gibson who also acts, produces and writes the movie, made a boldest move by releasing his movie primarily straight-to-VOD (video on demand) instead of a wide theatrical release. Whatever marketing tactic Gibson is trying to pull here, the good news is that this movie does sounds and looks like a vintage Mel Gibson in a classic action-movie mode (at least that's what the promotional trailers have indicated so far). Make no mistake, GET THE GRINGO does possesses some of those quick wits and robust violence you've come to expect from an action movie starring Mel Gibson. It's only too bad that the movie is mostly a half-baked effort.
However the movie does begins promisingly with an entertaining car chase between a pair of fugitives in clown costumes trying to outrun some U.S. Border Patrol. During the ongoing pursuit, one of the fugitives who sat on the backseat is subsequently bleed to death. The getaway driver who is credited as "Driver" (Gibson) makes a hasty decision by leaping his car through the fence onto Mexican soil and ends up being arrested by some corrupt local police.
Not long after, Driver is thrown into El Pubelito, a notorious prison in Tijuana that allows families of inmates to live together within the prison walls. Within short time of period, Driver tries to learn everything he can to survive in the hellish prison while finding way to get his money back where the corrupt Mexican police has already confiscated earlier on. He subsequently befriends with a disgruntled 10-year-old kid (Kevin Hernandez) and discovers that the kid is particularly special because he has a rare blood type where a Mexican crime boss named Javi (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) particularly needs his liver for a transplant operation.
Elsewhere, an angry mobster named Frank (Peter Stormare) assigns his two men to retrieve the money stolen in the opening scene, which subsequently complicates the matter for Driver to make things right.
On the director's seat is Adrian Grunberg, former assistant director who used to work on Mel Gibson's two movies (2006's APOCALYPTO and 2010's EDGE OF DARKNESS), manages to cook up some worthy style here and there. With the help of cinematographer Benoit Debie, technical credits are reasonably good, considering the movie is a low-budget entry. Apart from the opening car chase scene, one particularly notable action scene involved a slow-motion shootout sequence echoes the kind of Mexican standoff found in Sam Peckinpah's movies.
However the same cannot be said with Gibson, Grunberg and Stacy Perskie's needlessly convoluted screenplay. At times the pace is erratic and some of the melodramatic scenes could have been trimmed down.
Still the movie remains a fairly good time-waster, thanks to Mel Gibson's entertaining performance. Die-hard fans of his past movies will be delighted to find him in a decent form here. He is certainly energetic here as the resourceful and quick-witted Driver -- the kind of role he's born to play. His co-star, Kevin Hernandez is similarly credible as a tough little kid who likes to smoke a lot. The rest of the supporting actors, particularly those who play the bad guys, are equally fun as well.