Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

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Can we just forgive Mel Gibson already?

I know he made The Passion of the Christ, but I can forgive him for that.

Oh yeah, there’s all that racist stuff too. But he was drunk! Who among us hasn’t said some stupid shit when we’re drunk? I regret virtually everything I’ve ever done when drunk. There’s a kernel of truth in the saying that the real person reveals themselves when intoxicated. As a fan, I’m happy to have Mel Gibson back in my life.

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Get the Gringo is Mel Gibson at his best. His booze-soaked, chain-smoking best.

The premise is stunningly simple. Mel Gibson’s character is simply known as either the Driver or Gringo. He was the getaway driver of a robbery gone bad. Get the Gringo opens with the Driver leading the police on a chase with a dying accomplice bleeding all over the millions in their car. In a last-ditch attemptr, the Driver evades the cops and crashes the car into and over the border wall in order to get easier treatment in Mexico. The laughably corrupt Mexican cops that catch him take the millions in stolen money and throw the Driver into their shitty prison system on false charges—hoping to bury him forever. The setup of the story is nice and breezy.

Essentially, this is a revenge movie where Mel Gibson makes sure his enemies get their comeuppance. And oh shit, comeuppance is had. Mel’s character is the only white guy (hence, the Gringo) locked up in El Pueblito, which is a Mexican prison where the inmates run the asylum. If you have enough money, you can bring your family into the prison to live with you—while the kids can even continue going to school on the outside. The Gringo gets the lay of the land and starts to exploit his surroundings to improve his stature in the prison.

Get the Gringo has an enjoyable pace, but I found myself more in love with the acting than the actual story. Mel Gibson exudes charisma. This is the typical kind of gruff character that Mel Gibson knocks out of the park. Despite being an arguably shitty human being, I find Mel Gibson to be an extremely likeable actor.

the-driver-and-the-kid

As great as Mel Gibson is in Get the Gringo, this movie is so memorable because of the Kid (played by Kevin Hernandez). I’ve seen Kevin Hernandez is a few things since this movie, but Get the Gringo will likely be the height of his career. Honestly, it feels like one of the best performances from a young child actor. The Kid has special privileges in El Pueblito because he is the only match for a liver transplant that the criminal leader of the prison, Javi (played by Daniel Giménez Cacho) needs—due to all of his drinking. No one can touch the Kid, and he can’t leave like the other kids. The budding friendship between the Gringo and the Kid is the highlight of this movie.

Most child actors are shit. I think reasonable people can agree about that. They’re kids, they can’t be trusted to be any good. What child should be working at that age? However, Kevin Hernandez perfectly encapsulates this character. He’s a wise-cracking, tough kid on the outside, but you can see he is scared to death on the inside. In his current circumstances, there’s nothing the Kid can do to save himself or his mother. But he wants to try to do so by killing Javi. He has no choice. His liver is no longer his own. Once Javi gives the go-ahead, they’ll cut the liver out of the Kid and transplant it into Javi so he can ruin another this one too with his binge drinking.

Naturally, the story snowballs and you find out more about the robbery gone bad. The Gringo stole those millions from an evil fuck named Frank (played by master of greasy creepitude, Peter Stormare). Frank wants that fucking money back. Nothing will stop him. Get the Gringo is wise to let Stormare chew scenery and gloriously over-act. Peter Stormare is phenomenal in everything, and I will fight you if you disagree.

There’s a few other solid performances from supporting actors, but the biggest secondary contribution comes from Peter Gerety. If the name isn’t familiar, maybe the many chins of Peter Gerety will remind you that he was the hefty Judge Phelan in The Wire. I’ve been grossed out by Gerety ever since I heard his character in The Wire say he “would love to throw a fuck” into a female character. The mental image that conjured will haunt my nightmares. Gerety is operating at peak creepiness as the Embassy Guy poking around in the Gringo’s business.

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Get the Gringo is a fun action adventure. This is the exact fucking type of movie that we as a nation have missed out on in the name of morality. Most people in the movie business are probably pieces of shit. I don’t care. Movies aren’t real. I can disassociate someone’s real life from what’s happening on a screen. It’s acting. Some people are weirded out by Tom Cruise now. Like Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise exudes charisma and he’s always entertaining in movies.

Maybe Mel Gibson still is a piece of shit. But people can change. His past, present, or future isn’t going to impact my enjoyment of his films. Get the Gringo is a fine example of the pure fun that we can have from watching Mel Gibson get back to work. Give the man some room to breathe and the freedom to perfect his craft.

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4.5 out of 5 stars

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Holy fuck. Those are the only two words that will come out of your mouth after watching Sicario. An early favorite for Best Picture at the Oscars, Sicario is well-crafted with amazing acting performances from Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin. If there’s a better movie coming out later this year, I can only imagine it being double the pleasure, double the fun with Tom Hardy playing twins in Legend.

Calling Sicario a tense action thriller is an understatement.

My breath was hastened. There was a weight on my chest. Sprawled out in a cozy recliner, I squirmed around uncomfortably. This fucking movie gave me anxiety. Trust me, I’m familiar with the feeling. Somehow, merely driving through the streets into Mexico and back across the border managed to become insanely intense. No need to fret, there’s a payoff for all that fierce tension too.

Driving

From the very first scene—a raid on a suburban home in Chandler, AZ—you know you are in for a ride. It is bumpy and uncomfortable at times. The stakes are established early. This is the war on drugs where raids and busts are simply scratching the surface. But be careful of what you might find when you go deeper. This is awful people doing awful things—the stuff white of people’s nightmares.

A veritable game of chess, the important pieces like kings and queens are kept out of sight. For the most part, everyone we see are pawns in one army or another. On the American side, there are Department of Justice advisors Matt Graver (played by Josh Brolin) and his mysterious partner Alejandro (played by Benicio Del Toro). However, the audience experiences the action through the eyes of FBI agent Kate Macer (played by Emily Blunt). Just like Kate, we’re along for the ride through this hellscape.

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt is predictably fantastic, which you should expect if you watched her in Looper and Edge of Tomorrow. You see Blunt’s vulnerability and feel her emotional state deteriorate the deeper they delve into the business of the drug trade. Any normal person would have broken down a long time ago.

In my own personal game of recognizing actors from my favorite TV shows, Jon Bernthal (Shane from The Walking Dead) pops up in an extended cameo. As usual, Bernthal is just grand and he brought more to the role than the flat character that was written on paper. From the Fifteen Million Merits episode of Black Mirror, Daniel Kaluuya plays Reggie Wayne, friend of Kate and fellow FBI agent. Kaluuya is surprisingly enjoyable as the skeptic. The supporting cast elevates the content even in mundane scenes.

Benicio Del Toro

With such an incredibly well-rounded movie, even the cinematography demands your attention with its dramatic presence. I live in Arizona and the only Southwestern landscape that I find breathtaking is the red rocks of Sedona. But the wide angle shots of the desert and barren wasteland along the border are beautiful in this movie. The framing of several scenes depicts a strong sense of foreboding.

The doom is impending for a reason. And it is always inevitable.

Sooner or later, it all catches up to you. The river of shit is unavoidable. In a sense, that’s a recurring theme in Sicario. Although Emily Blunt’s character Kate wants maintain her moral compass, it’s hard not to spin out of control when you realize that the most effective response to terror is terror. Hidden bodies in a suburban home is just the beginning. Moving beyond the surface only reveals more evil. The water in the deep end is dark and murky. While everyone else is doing whatever necessary to get the job done, all Kate wants to do is follow procedure. In this world, following procedure will get you killed.

Sicario is sick and twisted, but it is wisely infused with some levity.

Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin’s character Matt Graver is shockingly humorous with his dickish persona. You never quite trust him, but he still comes off as likeable. Benicio Del Toro is sneaky great with a raw, mysterious performance. Everything—writing, casting, acting, directing—works together harmoniously. The score made my heart pound during the right moments. At this point, I’ve only watched Sicario once, but it won’t stay that way for long. I look forward to uncovering more nuances in future viewings. Sicario doesn’t have the same philosophical underpinnings as No Country for Old Men, but it belongs in the same stratosphere of great movies. Director Denis Villeneuve has a phenomenal piece of art here with Sicario.

Expect Sicario to at least garner Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Picture this year. Emily Blunt could be in the competition for Best Actress and there are other fitting categories as well. Sicario excels by giving its stars the room to breathe in their roles.

If Sicario is any indication, the war on drugs is an unbreakable cycle of horror. There’s no winning. We are all losers in this game. You might want to take a shower after this cinematic experience.

Shower

5 out of 5 stars