HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION (aka GET THE GRINGO) (2011)
Directed by: Adrian Grunberg
Written by: Mel Gibson, Adrian Grunberg & Stacy Perksie
Starring: Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Kevin Hernandez, Dolores Heredia, Bob Gunton, Scott Cohen
Now this is more like it. After returning to the acting fold from a short (ish) hiatus with Hollywood gloss Edge of Darkness and the underrated (and very funny) The Beaver, Gibson gets down and dirty in this old school action thriller. At his gruff and tough best, Gibson sinks his teeth into the role of a thief fleeing for his life with a boatload of cash only to get caught and thrown in a hellhole of a Mexican prison. More like a mini town encased in concrete walls and run by killers, pushers and all kinds of corrupt officials, Gibson’s thief must adapt quickly to the harsh life and hold his own against the ruthless clientele. Making friends with a young tearaway and his mother, it’s not long before he figures out how his new “holiday home” works. Likewise, it’s not long until the those higher up get wind of the amount of cash he stole, now in the possession of two corrupt cops, and before those who he stole the cash from come looking for it.
Sun soaked but gritty and sweaty this is a mean and moody thriller, with a thick dose of black humour, which showcases Gibson at his best. His nameless character, doused in dubiously moral shades of grey, muscles his way through the corrupt prison with brute force precision and its fun to see Gibson getting stuck into a tough and meaty character. He also shoots him through with a streak of likeability as he attempts to help the kid and mother. Playing the kid is the superb Kevin Hernandez who sure isn’t your typical annoying movie moppet. Paring a tough character with a kid usually softens a tough action film but not here (as the kid can swear and smoke as well as the adults) but helps give the film a touching human relationship at the centre of all the corruption and violence. Thanks to the excellent acting from the stars and tight direction from first timer Adrian Grunberg, the relationship never feels forced and while proceedings do dip into a certain pulpy charm, the gritty and sweaty edge are all maintained.
Managing to, just, keep the right balance of grit and laughs, How I Spent My Summer Vacation is an old school hoot, better than a lot of the big budget blockbusters these days, and features Gibson at the best he’s been for some time. However, the less said about his Clint Eastwood impression the better!
Check it out.