First seen at the wheel of a hurtling getaway car, dressed in a clown-outfit disguise, Gibson’s nameless crook crashes through the US-Mexico border fence and ends up as the solitary gringo in a spectacularly grungy Mexican jail.
His chances of survival in the teeming, squalid, cutthroat world of ‘El Pueblito’ would appear slim, but Gibson’s anti-hero is nothing if not resourceful. He quickly takes stock of his bizarre surroundings, a jail that is almost a town in itself and which houses both prisoners and their families. He soon learns that anything is available inside, from soft drinks and cigarettes to drugs and guns, if you have the cash. (‘Is this a prison or the world’s shittiest mall?’ he asks himself.)
Next he befriends a scrappy 10-year-old kid and begins to work out the weak links in the hierarchal chain of power that leads up to the jail’s sleazy kingpin. His goals are to get out, retrieve his loot and strike back at his old enemies before they can track him down.
Does he get away with it? More importantly, does Mel? In the wake of his recent meltdowns, Gibson is definitely persona non grata as a person, but as a star, though it may stick in the craw to admit, he’s still got what it takes on screen. He looks a lot more grizzled, of course, than when he first started playing his hair-trigger hotheads (Lethal Weapon’s blue-eyed Martin Riggs appears positively fresh-faced by comparison) but he still oozes charisma. And when it comes to the film’s scorching shootouts, he’s still got the live-wire energy too.
On general release from Friday 11th May.
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