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Film / Get the Gringo

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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 and Payback, 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:

  • AB Negative: Javi has hh blood group also known as Bombay blood group (the Mother calls it "Bambi Blood") which is rarer with incidence of 1 in 10,000 people and killed the Kid's father for his liver when he needed a transplant and he was the only compatible donor that Javi could find. He also keeps the Kid alive since he has the same blood type as his father and Javi knows that he is going to need another liver…
  • Abusive Parents: Implied at the beginning with the Driver's line: "But as my old mother always told me, 'Fuck off, loser.'"
  • Action Prologue: The film opens with the Driver's Run for the Border, while being shot at.
  • 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.
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    • 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.
  • Agony of the Feet: Vazquez and Romero are tortured for the location of the stolen money by having their toes cut off, before being killed at the end of the same scene.
  • Alliterative Name: Frank Fowler.
  • At Least I Admit It: Vazquez tells Bill at the beginning that both Mexican and American cops are corrupt, but at least Mexican cops are honest about it. As if that's any better.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The Driver buys a taco on his way to kill Frank, and is shown to the microwave, but he then says he isn't going to eat it. He stuffs it in the exhaust of the car on his tail, so that when the car has to stop, he is able to pick off the car's occupants.
  • 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.
  • The Big Guy: Caracas, Javi's big brother. The Kid even describes him this way while telling the Driver who he (Caracas) is.
  • Big "NO!": Driver's recurring dream has his ex-wife doing a few of these when Reginald T. Barnes is blown away.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some Spanish words are left untranslated, such as when Bill calls Vazquez "cabron" in an early scene. By the way, that translates to "asshole".
  • 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.
  • Camping a Crapper: Non-lethal example. Driver knocks out the man who had earlier taunted him while he (the man) is sitting on the toilet.
  • Cassandra Truth: Vazquez is unable to convince Frank and his men that they only stole $2 million, not knowing about the rest of the money.
  • 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.
    • The car driven by Driver in the opening chase. Vazquez and Romero steal the $2 million they find, but can't find the rest of the money, having not known about it to start with. At the end, Driver finds the car impounded, cuts open the trunk and retrieves the rest of the money.
    • Grenades. The Driver uses one of Frank's goons' own grenades to kill him. He later uses two grenades to kill Frank's associate and Frank himself.
  • Country Matters: The Driver lets loose a C-bomb when he's held down soon after arriving in El Pueblito when the nurse takes a sample of his blood.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Driver and the Kid.
  • Dirty Cop: Every cop, what'd you expect? As the Mexican cop says to the American cop at the start of the film, both sides are corrupt but at least the Mexicans admit it.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The Kid's mother gets a moment of this when she catches the Driver staring at her early on. She walks up to him, asks "What the fuck are you staring at?" and smacks him across the face.
  • Electric Torture: The Kid's mother is subject to this when being questioned about where the Kid is, right before the Kid himself shows up and attempts to stab himself.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Javi has his brother, Caracas, and his Aunt Flor (Carnal's mother). Subverted with Carnal himself, as the Kid says Javi and Caracas hate him. Apparently so much so that after Driver kills Carnal, Javi furiously smacks Carnal's corpse in the face.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While having a drink to deal with the chaos of the riot, the warden fails to see the Driver is sitting right next to him.
  • Fearsome Foot: Frank's goons are soon arriving in El Pubelito wearing heavy boots that make their presence known to the others as they approach before they start firing their guns.
  • Foreshadowing: Driver's line to the Kid: "You don't want to kill Javi. You need to kill Javi. Before he kills you." The Kid later tries to stab his liver and indirectly kill Javi because then, if the Kid damages his liver, Javi won't be able to use it, won't be able to find another donor, and thus die.
    • The Driver describes a recurring dream to the Kid's mother in great detail about Reginald T. Barnes after getting together with Driver's ex-wife. At the end, the dream is played out exactly as described, but it is left up to the audience to decide whether it actually happened or not, because immediately after it, the Driver is seen waking up and smiling to himself.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The Kid gets in on the swearing, smoking and talking about how he wants to kill Javi because he killed his father by taking his liver and plans to do the same to the Kid himself.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: The Driver grabs a grenade thrown by one of Frank's hired guns and throws it right back, turning one of them into bloody chunks.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Kid stabs himself, trying to destroy his liver so that Javi can't get to it. Subverted because the attempt fails.
  • Hellhole Prison: El Pueblito is a gigantic slum/prison hybrid, with prisoners sleeping on bare dirt and having to paw through garbage if they cannot afford to pay for anything better.
  • 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.
  • Improvised Weapon: Carnal is beaten back by the Kid's mother with a iron before being killed by the Driver.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Double-subverted by the Kid, who attempts to kill himself but fails and is saved.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Driver gets taunted by a man in the holding cell shortly after arriving in El Pueblito. That night, he follows the same man into the bathrooms and ambushes him, knocking him out and stealing his gun, money and Rolex.
  • Kid Sidekick: The Kid. (duh)
  • The Load: Carnal is described by the Kid to the Driver as being this to Javi and Caracas: "He's a useless prick. Even they hate him."
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Javi lives a nice flat above the squalor that everyone else has to live in and can leave the prison at any time as long as he eventually comes back. The Driver even calls it a penthouse.
  • 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.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: Frank's men cut the toes off the Corrupt Cops while forcing them to tell what they did with the money.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. The man who taunts Driver in the holding cell early on is later seen going to the bathroom, which is where Driver ambushes him.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Kid and Driver get one when they notice Frank's goons in the prison, before they open fire.
    • One of said goons gets one when Driver catches a grenade in mid-air and throws it back at him.
    • Frank gets this when he sees the grenade at his feet and realizes it's about to explode. He manages to say "Oh—" before it goes off.
  • One-Hit Kill: How Carnal is killed. Driver bursts in while Carnal is about to rape the Kid's mother and kills him with a single shot to the chest.
  • Papa Wolf: The Driver becomes this to the Kid.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Flashing-the-badge type.
  • Pet the Dog: Javi seems to actually care about his family.
  • Precision F-Strike: Throughout. Even the Kid gets in on it.
  • Red Is Heroic: The Driver wears a red shirt in a few scenes and when he's on his way to kill Frank, he drives a red car.
  • Red Shirt: The Driver's associate in the car chase at the beginning, who's bleeding internally and presumed dead at the end of the chase.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Gringo was able to get a sit next to the warden during the shut-down.
  • Run for the Border: Get the Gringo begins with the gringo and his dying partner driving for the Mexican border after a robbery, with the authorities in hot pursuit. He makes it across the border but crashes in the process and is quickly picked up by Mexican border patrol officers. Those officers are prepared to hand the protagonist back over to his American pursuers without a fuss, before noticing all of the money in his car, stealing it, and taking the gringo to a Mexican prison.
  • Screaming Woman: The Kid's mother during her Electric Torture, and then when the Kid appears and attempts to stab his liver and kill himself, right in front of her and Javi.
  • Sherlock Scan: The Driver, after first arriving at El Pueblito, deduces that Carnal is working for Caracas because people are showing Caracas respect and Caracas appears to be making Carnal's life miserable. Then he corrects himself moments later when he spots Javi in a bathrobe in a Luxury Prison Suite, correctly deducing now that Caracas and Carnal both work for Javi. Bear in mind this is before he even knows any of their names and the fact they're all related (he gets that fact from the Kid later).
  • Shoe Slap: The Driver does this with his own shoes shortly after first arriving in El Pueblito.
  • Shout-Out: To many other roles and films featuring Mel Gibson:
  • Siblings in Crime: Carcas and Javi run the prison (with their cousin thrown in for good measure).
  • Sins of Our Fathers: The Kid (and a whole lot of children) all have to live in a hellhole like El Pueblito because their parents got themselves locked up.
  • 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 until 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 business. 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.
  • Wealthy Ever After: The Driver recovers $3.7 million of the stolen $4 million (the rest was spent by Vazquez and his partner on hookers and some new cars) and uses it to start a new life with the Kid and his mother.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Vasquez and Romero mention that two of the cops who were with them were kidnapped tortured and murdered by the gangsters after the money, but never mention their third partner, and he isn't with them when they get caught themselves.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Carnal does this to the Kid's mother after she hits him with an iron. Then he starts to try and take her clothes off like he's going to rape her.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Javi plans to take the Kid's liver because he needs a new one and the Kid's the only matching blood type. Obviously, this would spell death for the Kid.
    • Carnal as well, punching the Kid before being killed by the Driver.
  • 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.