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Is Mel Gibson’s “Get the Gringo” Unreleasable?

July 17, 2012

Remember what I wrote in my 360 review about how “direct to video” no longer means “piece of crap”? That doesn’t apply to Get the Gringo, Mel Gibson’s latest attempt at career rehab, which just debuted on VOD and DVD. Then again, even if Gringo were Braveheart 2, it probably wouldn’t receive a domestic theatrical release, given the irreparable damage Gibson has done to his reputation with his anti-Semitic rants and misogynistic tirades. Not to mention The Beaver.

Unlike that heavy-handed 2011 puppet drama, Gringo doesn’t provide Gibson with an A-list costar/director like Jodie Foster. Apparently, almost nobody who’s anybody wants to work with the guy anymore. And who can blame them? Gringo, which Gibson also cowrote and produced, features only a few semi-recognizable character actors in the supporting cast (Prison Break‘s Peter Stormare, Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris, Homicide‘s Peter Gerety, The Shawshank Redemption‘s Bob Gunton) and was directed by Adrian Grünberg, a veteran assistant director who worked with the star on Apocalypto and Edge of Darkness. This time, Gibson’s gone over the edge of darkness with an ugly little exploitation film about a criminal who’s confined to a Mexican prison community where everything goes: drugs, prostitution, murder, even masked wrestling. It’s like a grade-Z version of Oliver Stone’s Savages, which is itself a D-list movie.

You’ve gotta wonder what went through Gibson’s mind when he co-conceived the story of a sole Caucasian fighting his way out of a den of cutthroat Latinos. Of course, there are a few token white bad guys and sympathetic Mexicans, including a street-smart 10-year-old boy and his single mother, who becomes Gibson’s love interest. In a sense, Gibson can’t win; he made his name playing angry, vengeful characters in films like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon. If he goes back to his bread-and-butter, it’s impossible not to flash on the rage-filled real-life recordings we’ve all heard. You half expect him to call one of the federales “azúcar tits.” (Notably, Gibson doesn’t seem to be involved in George Miller’s upcoming reboot Mad Max: Fury Road, which casts The Dark Knight Rises‘ Tom “Bane” Hardy in the title role.)

Shot in April 2010 (right around the time of Gibson’s breakup with Oksana Grigorieva) and made for a relatively cheap $20 million, Gringo has earned back only $5 million or so in its limited international release, including theatrical engagements in Gibson’s native Australia as well as his ex’s homeland of Russia. That won’t do much to boost his chances of a comeback. Perhaps his return trip South of the Border for Robert Rodriguez’s currently-shooting sequel Machete Kills will trigger a Travolta/Tarantino-esque renaissance for Gibson, but it’ll more likely do for his career what the original Machete did for Don Johnson, Steven Seagal and Lindsay Lohan—nada.

Gibson needs to face the facts: He’s no longer what women (or anyone else) want. He’s the man without a face and far from forever young. Blame it on a conspiracy theory, but the signs say his years of living dangerously are over. He may consider himself a patriot and a maverick, but he’s more like a bird on a wire. He doesn’t command a bounty or a king’s ransom anymore. He’s no longer a lethal weapon at the box office; he is, in fact, getting too old for this shit. And yes, payback’s a bitch.

Is Mel Gibson up the proverbial river without a paddle? Post a comment!

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