Action, 96 Minutes, 2012:
[Hurricane Sandy is currently causing all kinds of hell for all kinds of people. Here in Scranton, PA we’ve still got power and Internet (at least for now). We’re going to watch movies until either Sandy puts a stop to it or we can actually leave the house.]
Mel Gibson [IMDB] is, let’s face it, a seriously fucked up human being. Whatever truth exists, whether it be better or worse than we suppose, about him personally it’s difficult to argue against him on one front: the man makes some damn fine movies.
Gibson’s plays an enigmatic thief that, while eluding authorities, ends up crashing across the Mexican border where corrupt cops steal his loot and have him stuck in a brutal, criminal run prison. (Mexico does not come off well in this movie.) The prison is nearly a character by itself. A sprawling, filthy open-air market housing inmates and, in many cases, their children and wives as well. The wealthy live like kings and the rest live off the scraps.
The first two acts concern him learning how to survive the prison and fending off interest in the stolen money and the mob boss that it turns it he stole it from. He befriends a boy and his mother and builds that relationship. The final act is difficult to describe without spoilers but suffice to say that threads get wrapped up, the bad guys get theirs and the good guys get theirs too.
There are some holes. There’s meaningless mentions of Gibson’s past as a sniper (which could have come in real handy in a couple of places but is pretty well ignored). Also the prison is a little too open – it’s often too easy to forget that most of the movie actually takes places in a prison. There’s also a completely useless narration by Gibson that does nothing more than patronize the audience by explaining the obvious.
This isn’t a “hard” action movie. There’s only one actual shoot-out, it’s short on pithy one-liners and there’s quite a few subtitles to wade through. It’s a slow burn but an engaging and intelligent one from start to finish with very little fat to trim off the story. This isn’t Gibson at the top of his game – it’s rather easy movie and relies a little too heavily on a few well-worn tropes – but it’s absolutely worth the time.