Also titled How I Spent My Summer Vacation
, this 2012 prison-set action thriller film sees Mel Gibson
returning to the style of his earlier works, such as Mad Max
, to such an extent that it gets called the Spiritual Successor
of Payback on wikipedia.
Gibson plays a nameless man credited only as "Driver", who has stolen a lot of money but gets caught with it as he attempts to cross the border into Mexico. Thrown into the slum-like prison village "El Pueblito", he needs to try to survive and get his money back, since its owners are keen on stopping him. Things get more complicated when his machinations are uncovered by an alert 10-year-old who appears to have some sort of connection to the prisoner who truly runs the place, Javi.
Released directly to video-on-demand services in the United States, the film was theatrically released elsewhere (such as the United Kingdom).
This film provides examples of:
- Affably Evil:
- It's Peter Stormare - with that kind of charisma, what'd you expect? In the few minutes we see him, he's shown ordering people's toes removed, ordering kills - and enjoying the Nine Dots brainteaser.
- If Driver's recurring dream actually happens, it places the ship magnate in the centre of this trope, as anything else he ever does on screen is affable.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Pretty much everything the Driver does involves acting natural and like he belongs. With little acting and big nerve he was able to appoint a meeting as Clint Eastwood and get into operational room during the shut-down, sitting right next to the warden.
- Big Bad: Javi.
- Bigger Bad: Frank doesn't get much screen time, but is still established to be this.
- Black and Grey Morality: Mel's character, a thief and killer is only better than the rest because he's charming and doesn't keep a kid alive just so he can get the liver once he needs it, as Javi does. The Kid is too young to have done anything really bad, and his mother's only offence was doing (and distributing) drugs. On the other side, we have killers, thieves and rapists, and everyone on the outside of the prison is corrupt.
- Black Comedy: Though the movie has lots of serious elements, a lot of the comedic tone is this.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- A literal one. In the holding cell, Driver is taunted by a man who Driver later follows into the bathrooms and attacks him in order to steal his gun, money and Rolex. The gun is hidden and later used to kill Carnal after the issue with the Rolex when the Kid was seen wearing it as a distraction and its owner got it back off him.
- The Rolex itself, as seen above.
- As soon as you see Mel handling an umbrella, you know he's planned something.
- The knife The Kid has earlier. In the end, he uses it trying to destroy his own liver, just so Javi can't get it.
- Dirty Cop: Every cop, what'd you expect? As the Mexican cop sais to the American cop at the start of the film, both sides are corrupt but at least the Mexicans admit it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The Kid stabs himself, trying to destroy his liver so that Javi can't get to it. Subverted because the attempt fails.
- Honor Before Reason: Javi is told repeatedly that his cousin is a liability, and that he'd be better off killing him. He refuses, because he's family. The cousin duly turns out to be exactly the liability he was feared to be, and ends up inadvertently helping bring Javi down.
- Infant Immortality: Double-subverted by the Kid, who attempts to kill himself but fails and is saved.
- Kid Sidekick: The Kid. (duh)
- Made of Iron: The three killers that "pay a visit" to Mel's character take down few clips of bullets before dropping down. One of them is shot to the neck and acts like it's Only a Flesh Wound, with blood gushing all around.
- Morality Pet: The relationship between the Kid and the Driver. The kid's mother recognises this, and her initial hostility to the driver cools considerably when she does so.
- No Name Given: None of the three protagonists is actually named. The Driver gives several names, none of which appears to be real. Seldom is he actually believed when he does this, but no one who calls him on it is able to figure out the truth.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Flashing-the-badge type.
- Pet the Dog: Javi seems to actually care about his family.
- Right Under Their Noses: Gringo was able to get a sit next to the warden during the shut-down.
- Shout-Out: To many other roles and films featuring Mel Gibson:
- Spiritual Successor: The film shares more than a few themes and shots with Mel's earlier film Payback.
- Every character in the film operates on the wrong side of the law.
- A character ends up with less than the desirable number of toes.
- The shot of Mel's character pickpocketing someone is virtually identical.
- Main story: Mel's character gets left for dead somewhere (shot, in prison) and takes out the Big Bad pyramid from the bottom up untill he and his love interest are the only ones left standing.
- Everybody Dies, the ones who survive still get hurt very much.
- Thicker Than Water: Javi just couldn't waste his cousin, even if leaving him alive was very bad for bussiness. The Driver used this for his advantage, setting up a grand scheme to save his own ass.
- Unnecessary Combat Roll: The Driver is doing a lot of them.
- Wretched Hive: El Pueblito is a gigantic slum/prison hybrid, akin to the refugee camp at Bexhill in Children of Men.
- You Didn't Ask: Mel's character is revealed to be fluent in Spanish. When Javi is surprised, the Driver points out that no-one ever asked him about it.
- You Killed My Father: It's Personal for The Kid as Javi killed his father because he needed the liver.