Get The Gringo Blu-ray Review
Get the Gringo comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray complete with a 1080p/AVC High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original limited theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. From such meagre beginnings, the end result is surprisingly strong, ranking in as a reference quality presentation – the likes of which you would have only expected for a much bigger budget release. Shot using the consistently acclaimed Red One camera, detail is excellent almost throughout, with skin textures, clothing weaves and fine object detail all impressive – Gibson’s weary, ageing face unable to hide from this near-picture-perfect offering. There are also simply no signs of any digital defects – edge enhancement is non-existent, and there’s no excessive DNR application either, with only a hint of motion blur in some of the more frenetic moments (often a slight issue with this method of filming). The colour scheme is rich and broad, and brimming with vivid and vibrant tones – indeed this is probably just about the most colourful prison you could imagine. Black levels are strong and detail retains integrity without any crush whatsoever, there’s no aberrant noise, and the night-shot sequences look extremely good. It is not a flawless rendition, but it is very impressive indeed, perhaps even more so when you consider that this self-funded little indie production from Gibson easily stands up on Blu-ray alongside some much bigger hitters.
Although not quite as impressive as the video presentation, the audio accompaniment is almost as good, offering up the soundtrack in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 flavour which suits it just fine. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout – from the occasional narration by Gibson’s beleaguered and nameless (anti-)hero to the shouts and screams from within the prison itself – and largely dominates the frontal array wherever appropriate. Effects are myriad and allow for a fairly immersive soundscape to be created for the most part, from the opening chase sequence and spectacular crash to the bustle of the holding pen and the prison itself; from the sporadic explosions of trigger-happy violence to the third-act literal explosions that come courtesy of a couple of well-timed grenades. Throughout the proceedings the LFE channel is ready and waiting to deliver that much-welcome potent undercurrent, and, even in the quieter moments the surrounds are seldom inactive – there’s always a side-deal going on to keep things interesting and, if not, the score itself kicks in to remind you that the film hasn’t forgotten about you. It’s an embracing, almost all-encompassing mix that impresses and resounds as just shy of demo quality. What would have tipped it over the edge? Well, I have to say, there’s only so much you can do considering the material, and it just doesn’t have enough in it to pull off the kind of track which you’d show off purely for its aural qualities. Damn close though.
Although far from enough to compete with the big boys in the extras department (although releases like the bare bones Grosse Pointe Blank 15th Anniversary Edition might make for a counter-argument) there are a few nice extras adorning this disc, mostly consisting of a series of informative Featurettes.
Get the Gringo – A Look Inside is the leading Behind the Scenes Featurette, running at 18 minutes in length. It ticks all of the right boxes, offering up cast and crew interview snippets and plenty of background footage of the film being shot. It’s far from your usual fluffy piece, and there’s a fair amount of detail about how Gibson came up with the idea, the refinements done to the script, the unique setting and what happened during the shoot. Sure, it doesn’t make up for the lack of commentary from Gibson & Co. but did you really expect we’d get one of those?
On Set – The Car Chase is the first of a series of shorted companion-pieces to the main Featurette, this one clocking in at just under 4 minutes in length and focussing on the opening car chase and how they shot it.
On Set – The Showdown continues in the trend with another 4-minute piece, this time looking at the mid-movie shootout and how they put that together.
On Set – The Raid closes out these Featurettes, just shy of the 4-minute mark and focussing on the closing assault which mirrored real-life events.
The disc is rounded off by the “El Corrido del Gringo” Music Video and the package comes complete with a DVD copy of the film as well.
However hard you find it to put aside your personal views about Gibson, his latest film provides a welcome distraction that may help you forget the controversies, and remind you of what he’s good at. With proper studio backing, a bigger budget, and the relevant copyrights, this could have easily been an official sequel to Payback, but Gibson’s too much of a Hollywood pariah at the moment to get any of those. Instead he’s written, funded and starred in what is essentially an unofficial sequel. Making the most of its unusual location, and with Peckinpah-edged stylisation from the director, it has Gibson back at his hardboiled best, conning, charming and shooting his way through a colourful Mexican prison with all the punch and panache he’s always brought to these wittily-scripted action-crime-thriller roles. It’s a fine way to finish off my retrospective on some of Gibson’s career highlights.
Get the Gringo aka How I Spent My Summer Vacation comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray just a few weeks before the UK release, which will undoubtedly sport the same excellent video, impressive audio and decent set of extras. Whatever your restrictions, I highly recommend you pick one of the releases up. Even if you’ve been put off by Gibson’s recent public actions, this tiny little indie gem is a fine reminder that he’s still a great lead actor, and a great writer too. Don’t be put off by the publicity or – in terms of the movie itself – by the lack of publicity. This could easily be the best movie of 2012 that you’ve never heard of. Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.59
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