Mel applies his lethal weapon routine to a violent South-of-the-Border romp
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There’s something immensely satisfying about watching Mel Gibson do time in a Mexican jail. After a post-heist police pursuit sends his car hurtling through a border wall, Gibson’s “Driver” ends up in the custody of Mexican cops, who promptly steal the $2 million he snatched and dump him in El Pueblito, a Tijuana prison of sorts that’s actually more like a small city – or in Driver’s estimation, “the world’s shittiest mall.” The protagonist’s smug voiceover, along with his first coup – stealing a gun off a defecating baddie in the latrine – sets the movie’s proudly incorrect tone. Before long, Driver makes friends with a ten-year-old urchin (Kevin Hernandez) whose mom (Dolores Heredia) is in for drug trafficking. When the kid informs him he plans to kill the local kingpin (Daniel Giménez Cacho) and cut out his liver, Gibson responds with a look that says, “What, that’s all?”
This is probably not the type of community service most would have prescribed for the cowriter-producer-star. As Gibson sets out to help his young pal, it becomes clear the plot is just a quick fix designed to deliver various toe amputations, nonconsensual surgeries, impromptu grenade kills and Mel’s wildly off-the-mark attempt at a Clint Eastwood impression. Driver’s assorted payback efforts are not, it must be admitted, entirely unenjoyable. Still, the combination of slick thrills and seedy, faux-grindhouse affectations marks Get the Gringo as rather too eager to give up the goods – more willfully outrageous than organically nutty.