“How I Spent My Summer Vacation” Review

Mel’s back bitches!

That’s not the most eloquent opening line that I’ve ever written, but it’s true. After some troubles (cough *racism* cough) Mel Gibson is back. Despite his “troubles” I’ve always loved ol’ Mel, whether he’s upholding the law (in his own way) as Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon 1 – 4 or being an all round bad-ass as Porter in Payback (The less said about Signs the better.)

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The movie begins with Mel (or according to the credits “Driver”) racing across the desert away from police whilst dressed as a clown. His partner is coughing up blood on the back seat. For a lot of the film we hear things through Mel’s internal monologue, things such as

Well, hello boys and girls. there’s nothing worse than a sad clown. Unless it’s a clown bleeding internally and coughing it all over your money.”

I love this noir-y style monologue, with Mel sounding suitably bleak and depressed throughout. He see’s the border, and makes a break for it, smashing through the wall.

He’s discovered on the other side by the Mexican authorities who spy the money in the back of the car. These cops are contemptible and knowingly corrupt (“Look, you’re corrupt, we’re corrupt. There’s one difference. We’re honest about it”) Mel soon gets thrown into a Mexican prison. This is where much of the movie’s action takes place. Now, I’m sure prison’s in real life are not really like this, but the prison in the movie is an amazing setting for a movie. The prison is more like a village, with prisoners being able to pay for their family to join them. It looks more like a favela than a prison. Most prisoners carry guns and there is a booming drugs business within the prison walls. Mel is a gringo, and he’s in over his head.

After a series of run-ins with prisoners, and after stealing as much money as he can, Mel makes the acquaintance of a chain-smoking ten-year old, who the credits simply call “Kid”. Mel soon becomes friendly with this kid and his mother, and he learns that the self-proclaimed criminal leader of the prison “Javi” killed the kid’s father. Javi needed a new liver, and he killed the kid’s dad to get it. But now he needs another new one, thanks to his hectic lifestyle. The kid has the same rare blood type as his father and Javi, so Javi’s coming for him. Mel isn’t about to let this happen “You need to kill Javi. Before he kills you.”

The rest of the film is an awesome collection of shootouts and cool one liners.Also, Mel Gibson does a dynamite Clint Eastwood impression in this movie. He kicks ass on both sides of the border, both trying to save the boy and his mother and get his money back from the corrupt officials. My favourite scene in particular is the one to the right, in which Mel gets into an office building under false pretenses and just blows it up. It’s an extremely bad-ass sight to see an old Mel Gibson throwing two grenades and just walking away from the explosion. Cool guys don’t look at explosions after all. 

I’ll keep it spoiler free (for once) but this is a great comeback for Mel. For me personally, what Mel Gibson does in his personal life does not bother me. He’s still a great actor. But I can see why others would be bothered by this. Mel Gibson has always had a controversial personal life, but it doesn’t stop me enjoying Mad Max 1, 2, 3 or any of his movies. Give this film a shot, you’ll know if it’s your thing before you watch it. But if you have your reservations, just go for it. I promise you you’ll enjoy this blood-soaked adventure south of the border.

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