Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012): An Epic... Fail and a Lesson on Lame Filmmaking

The Dark Knight Rises
Most human beings share an interesting characteristic. They are able to easily misjudge pretty much everything based on their expectations, possessions and own yearnings. If one has been longing to buy a particular car and finally gets it, it will take a lot of time to admit it's garbage even when it really is. I read on an Internet board a statement in the vein of "After half an year everybody will only care about the first two Batman movies because now people are refusing to be let down". It looks like this is really the case with The Dark Knight Rises. Most people, including most critics, are favorable to the movie despite its numerous flaws. This is understandable because of their expectations but it does not change my observation that The Dark Knight Rises is artistically an epic fail (pun intended) regardless of its inevitable commercial success.

I am not a fan of Batman, comic movies or any other particular genre of films or even art. I'm not their "hater" either. I've seen thousands of movies and listened to thousands of music albums. And I think there are good and bad works in every genre and form of art. This is to show I am not prejudiced in any way in regard to the third Christopher Nolan's Batman film. Even more, similar to everyone else I prefer to like a movie when I am paying to see it. But it is really hard to like The Dark Knight Rises. And I'm not talking about inessential or artificial reasons to dislike the film pointed by other people (e.g. how Fox is researching a vehicle that exploded, how Bruce Wayne is walking on ice or returning to Gotham, or how a young policeman is able to guess Batman's identity). These do not bother me and most of them are not actual issues. I could also live with Bane's false statement that he didn't see the light until he was already a man. I can think of it as a figure of speech. I am talking about real flaws to an extent that even Nolan has tangled himself in the mess he has created.

Possible spoilers below!

Christopher Nolan based his Batman trilogy on realism. It's amazing how people simultaneously praise Nolan for this and at the same time they excuse every improbability issue with "Hey, it's a super-hero movie". And there are a lot of improbabilities in The Dark Knight Rises. To mention just a few, healing a vertebra protruding from your back with a punch or having a child making a jump adults cannot make is not what I would call realism.

Many of the faults decorating this film are related to the villains in one way or another. It's ridiculous how a villain who used to hate his father stops hating him after his death. Even more, the hate is changed by a determination to fulfil the father's wrongly understood destiny by destroying a city with 12 million people including the villains themselves. This is absurd on its own but more preposterous is the fact that at least a few of the mercenaries helping the antagonist are aware of the suicidal plan, yet they are also not bothered to die. So the number of mad people in this Batman installment is not limited to just one or two.

It is also impertinent to try to convince Gotham's citizens you want to help, liberate or save them by destroying a stadium and killing a scientist in front of them. Only an idiot would buy this. Maybe Nolan's intent has been to present a city of 12 million idiots, who knows... Actually, the only occasion when Bane looks somehow inspirational as a revolutionary leader is one of the initial sequences when a plane accident is imitated. Throughout the rest of the movie he is more menacing than inspiring (even to his own crew). This is a kind of inconsistency on its own. And the decision of the insane criminals not to destroy the city immediately when they have a chance instead of waiting for 6 months and risk everything does not make any sense. The annihilation of the city is poorly motivated in the first place but the reason for the delay is not better motivated either.

To bind Batman's suffering with Gotham's destruction is stupid. To delay the latter while simultaneously being constantly afraid someone might spoil your plans is more stupid. It looks like the villains are afraid to pull the trigger of self-destruction cause this does not happen even when Batman is back in the city. It is also unclear when and how the antagonist would enlighten Batman with the final revelation if Bruce Wayne weren't able to escape. Maybe with a personal TV announcement in the last minute. And who would take care to finish Batman if the villains had committed suicide? Batman has never seemed a suicidal type despite his moments of desperation. That he has Bane's "permission" to die after Gotham's end does not seem enough.

Why nobody would cancel huge financial operations, which have apparently happened in result of armed intervention, is beyond my imagination. The usage of Bruce Wayne's fingerprints does not make a transaction more likely, especially when he has not been doing anything on the financial markets for at least 8 years. The very idea that a physical presence is required in order to initiate a transaction (hence the need of the attack on the stock exchange) while at the same time only a man's stolen fingerprints are enough to perform it is contradictory in its basis.

Furthermore, it's a movie about a high-tech protagonist, yet instead of using some technologic advantage in a battle against time, Batman decides to confront his powerful enemy with bare hands as if he has months to waste.

There are redundant characters. I suppose nobody has an idea what the purpose of Selina's girlfriend in this movie is. Or why Daggett should be there? Maybe to show there is at least one bad person in Gotham or to delay the revelation of the real villains. The situation is not very different in regard to Foley (Deputy commissioner of Gotham City). He is probably there to demonstrate the incapability of the police but he's not really needed and in an effort to justify his presence there are a few unnecessary scenes between him and Commissioner Gordon.

The excessive use of infodumps is another evidence of a weak screenplay and direction. Every second character with more than an episodic appearance in The Dark Knight Rises is explaining something. Alfred, Miranda, young Gotham cop Blake and a couple of prisoners are a few good examples.

Now, there are people who will justify everything in order to remain convinced about the movie greatness. This includes the incredibly lame motivation of the villains, the redundant characters, the weak script, the infodumps, the inconsistencies. All these could be excused with "it's just a movie" or "this is the director's point of view". These are poor justifications, yet people often use them. But here is something else one wouldn't expect from a professional movie.

This is a thing I unintentionally noticed on my single viewing of the film, yet I haven't read about it anywhere. It's not likely I'm the only one who has spotted it although I am not surprised the majority of people miss this ridiculous moment because of the patchwork the film is. There is a point in The Dark Knight Rises, where Fox is captured by the villains. Additionally Commissioner Gordon and Miranda are captured too. The commissioner is sentenced by the self-proclaimed court and subsequently Miranda is taken away by Bane. Next we see a new captive brought to the place where Miranda and Fox are kept. This is Batman. He talks with Miranda and Fox and after that Batman and Fox are released by Selena. A few scenes later Batman saves Commissioner Gordon at the time of his execution. And now a very strange question follows. Batman asks the commissioner "Where is Miranda Tate?" and Gordon says, "Bane took her." Why would Batman ask a question when he knows its answer better than Gordon? Maybe he has again too much time and just feels in a mood for chatting.

I'm sure there will be people who will be able to justify even this nonsense. But the truth is quite simple. The filmmakers (incl. Christopher Nolan) have lost themselves in the glorious mess they've created so this detail has been apparently overlooked. The mess of "seriousness", epicness and pretentious moviemaking is so huge in this film that it's not strange the audience and the filmmakers have not noticed this issue. It's towards the end of the movie and at that point the audience is already so exhausted of the onscreen chaos that it's easy to overlook this moment. It's harder to excuse the filmmakers though. It's a movie costing quarter of a billion dollars made by one of the most acclaimed directors in recent years and faults like that, which even an amateur director wouldn't make, are hardly excusable. It's a perfect example how Nolan and the rest of the crew have been entangled in what they've been doing.

One of the few good things about this movie is that it is not in 3D. But this can hardly compensate the overall weak filmmaking. The Dark Knight was overhyped, partly due to Heath Ledger's untimely death, partially because of other reasons. But even not perfect, it was quite a good movie. The attempt of serious filmmaking in a super-hero world was not so disastrous and the movie was balanced without huge misconceptions and lack of ideas. This is not the case with The Dark Knight Rises. With a weak script, villains lacking even basically plausible motivation, an excess of characters, inconsistencies, a surplus of infodumps and poor editing, the movie is deeply flawed and an expensive lesson on lame filmmaking.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): Good Western Storytelling

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has been released in the same year as the epic How the West Was Won. Both movies share also director John Ford and several of their stars, most notably James Stewart and John Wayne. But unlike the beautiful to watch and colorful Western epic about the westward expansion, the former film has quite a good story despite not looking nearly as good as the latter and the story is what makes it the better movie. It's a fine example how a black and white film could be superior to a color movie of the same time and genre with (partially) equal actors and director.

The story of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is about Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) who became a legend for killing the famous outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). The senator returns to Shinbone, the town where he met his wife (Vera Miles) and which made him famous, for the funeral of Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). Apparently, Doniphon has not been very popular lately so the senator is challenged to tell more about Tom. Ransom Stoddard's narrative begins with his arrival at Shinbone many years ago and recounts his dealings with Liberty Valance, Tom Doniphon and Ransom's future wife Hallie. It appears Stoddard arrives in Shinbone after graduating a law school only to find there are different laws in this territory. With a hope of a better and lawful future, the territory strives for Statehood but this is not to everyone's taste. Ransom Stoddard has to confront with Liberty Valance one more time.

Since we are presented with Senator Ransom Stoddard and his wife Hallie in the very beginning of the movie, the narrative is not full of unexpected twists. You can actually predict where the movie is going although at one point the initial forecast seems to be erroneous. So, huge surprise is not the main instrument of the story. What makes it interesting is the way it is told. It is not until near the end of the film that your expectations are fulfilled. But what is even more charming is how the people prefer the legend to the truth and the way they respect a man because of his fair yet legally illegitimate deed instead of his numerous lifetime achievements.

Of course, the movie benefits from its cast as well. James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles and Lee Marvin all have worthy performances. John Wayne and Lee Marvin are probably more notable as portraying energetic characters that despite being enemies have a lot in common. Stewart and Miles are also good although playing more restrained parts. The supporting actors Edmond O'Brien and Andy Devine are vigorous in the roles of the local newspaper editor Dutton Peabody and the cowardly Marshal Link Appleyard.

The movie commences a bit static including a few almost still scenes, which may put some spectators off if they are not patient enough to wait for the real goods. Once the actual story begins though the audience is quickly involved in the film. It's one of John Ford's nostalgic tales about the good Old West that has been changed irrevocably. The movie is a must for Western lovers but it is also a good choice for any fans of intelligent storytelling.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kelly's Heroes (1970): Solid Entertainment with Memorable Characters

Kelly's Heroes
What is good about Kelly's Heroes is its creators are fully aware they are making comedy. They do not pretend that this is a serious film about war or try to convey any message. The movie is intended to entertain and it does in a very vital way. Similar to Where Eagles Dare, which was also directed by Brian G. Hutton and starring Clint Eastwood, Kelly's Heroes does not have the most plausible war story. But since the latter film is a parody anyway, nobody needs complete plausibility. The main purpose of a comedy is to be funny and this movie achieves it effortlessly.

Kelly's Heroes begins with Private (Ex-Lieutenant) Kelly (Clint Eastwood) capturing a German Colonel during World War II. Kelly notices a golden bar in the bag of the colonel so he makes him drunk in order to find out the amount and the location of the gold. After discovering that the gold in the colonel's bag is just a small piece of a huge treasure, Kelly plans to assemble a team of soldiers determined to go behind enemy lines and steal the Nazi treasure. A lot of colorful characters plus a few tanks join the team and the squad makes the impossible in order to put their hands on the bullion.

The cast of this film is probably its greatest virtue. Clint Eastwood presents his usual restrained and solid acting. He is the leader of the team but there are far more picturesque characters that eclipse his performance. Despite being a private Kelly gets the support of several sergeants and these are arguably the most vivid figures in the film. MSgt. Big Joe (Telly Savalas) is Kelly's direct superior who is initially hesitant about the venture but since everyone else under his command wants to participate in the initiative of making money, Big Joe has no other option unless to agree. Big Joe is almost constantly pissed off even if worried about his boys.

Another notable character in Kelly's Heroes is SSgt. Crapgame (Don Rickles). Rickles gives a very good performance of the get-rich-quick enthusiast who can supply anything in the army. He isn't brave but if a deal can be made somewhere Crapgame is the man to spot it. He is the one suggesting to Big Joe in regard with a German tank commander: "Then make a DEAL! A DEAL, deal! Maybe the guy's a Republican. Business is business, right?" The most remarkable character though is Sgt. Oddball (Donald Sutherland) who is completely out of place and time with his hippie attitude. Donald Sutherland is wonderful in this role and contributes a lot to make the movie genuinely funny. "Don't hit me with them negative waves so early in the morning."

There are other characters like Major General Colt (Carroll O'Connor), Oddball's technician Moriarty (Gavin MacLeod) and the chief of the artillery 1st Sgt. Mulligan (George Savalas) that also help a lot for the great entertainment Kelly's Heroes offers but in addition to the great cast and characters, we should allude a few more things. The story and the writing are strong. The movie is almost permanently funny without using unnecessary violence or too rough language. The director has done a great job as well. I mentioned about the out-of-time psychedelic attitude of Sergeant Oddball but there are also various references to other genres and films. A Western scene referring to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is among the highlights.

Kelly's Heroes is a good example of a comedy based on a balanced story with solid characters and without many of today's brainless techniques and tricks often used to compensate the lack of enough quality laughter. This movie possesses the power to appeal just because it does what comedies should do. It entertains and it makes you laugh.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why does Windows not support Blu-ray playback?

I see many people are still asking on the Internet why doesn't Windows support Blu-ray playback. Some of them not just ask but also directly accuse Microsoft of being stupid or "bad" because of not making their Windows Media Center capable of playing Blu-ray discs. Of course, Microsoft is not a charity organization and they have a good reason to omit BD playback. In fact, it was reported a few months ago that Microsoft did not plan to support also DVD playback in Windows 8 in addition to not supporting Blu-rays.

The reason why Windows 7, XP and Vista do not support playback of Blu-ray discs is quite simple though. And it is very rational. The companies behind the Blu-ray technology (mainly Sony, Panasonic and Philips) require payment of license fees for everything related to the technology. This includes discs, and every piece of hardware or software. Now, let's assume that about 10% of all Windows users will need Blu-ray playback software on their computer. It would be absolutely unnecessary and a misplaced expense if Microsoft pays license fees for the rest of the Windows copies they sell. And having in mind that 10% was probably an overestimation, there is really not a sensible reason for Microsoft to enable BD playback in Windows. Of course, they could do it but then somebody should pay the license fees for this pleasure and naturally, the end users would be the ones to pay. Well, I don't think most of the users want to pay for something they are not going to use. So despite all constant accusations Microsoft get for whatnot, I think they've made a wise decision on this issue.

But Windows is not the only operating system that doesn't offer playback of Blu-ray discs. In fact, all other competitors do not offer it. And if we go further, there is not also any Blu-ray player software that is free. There are a lot of programs that pretend to be capable of playing BDs for free but actually I haven't heard of even one free software that is able to play commercial discs with all features without ripping, hacking or something else. There have been rumors for months that VLC media player is going to support BD playback but in fact, most people report they are not able to play commercial discs although VLC is a good video player otherwise.

And to stress Microsoft's "innocence" furthermore, even the number of commercial Blu-ray software players is limited to four at the moment. It looks like even companies offering commercial software are not very willing to pay license fees to the holders of the patent rights.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on the future development of the technology and any related software or hardware. But unless Sony, Philips and Panasonic do not stop requiring fees I think they are impeding their own invention and its popularity. Thus it is not so strange there are many people that still do not have an idea about the rather superior quality BDs offer compared to DVDs. In any case we cannot blame Microsoft for this.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Is Wrong with Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson?

Alex Ferguson
Photo by Austin Osuide
I am not so much into football, especially in the recent 15 years, but I can write a football related piece if something gets my attention similarly to this article. I've been stumbling across numerous articles discussing Dimitar Berbatov's future in Manchester United for more than a year. They've been contradictory, confusing and often ridiculous. What is more preposterous though is that often Sir Alex Ferguson has contributed to the "chaos" surrounding Berbatov himself.

Today I read another couple of ridiculous statements claimed to be said by Alex Ferguson in regard to Dimitar Berbatov: "The boy has a future, but if he wants to leave it is a different matter." and "I am easy about it if he stays. I would be happy with that." These wouldn't be so shocking if they were said about a young 21-year-old player who had played 25 games with the team since the last summer. But this is not the case.

To say "The boy has a future" about a 31-year-old footballer is not appropriate if nothing more. But it is far more startling when it is said about a player who has been in your team for years and you have used him in about 5 matches for a whole season. What future does Dimitar have in Manchester United? He's not 21 years old. His contract with the team expires in a year. And obviously the manager does not need him. The statement about Berbatov's future is even funnier combined with another of Sir Alex Ferguson's quotes "He (Berbatov) had Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez in front of him, and they are all young men." Maybe Ferguson expects that Berbatov will age in an opposite direction and next year he'll become 3 years younger...

But this is not all. "I would be happy if he stays" Alex Ferguson said. What could make him happy if Berbatov stays? I don't think there is any happiness in having a £30.75 million record deal footballer on your bench. I don't think there is happiness in losing another £10-15 millions for a year by keeping Dimitar in the team. The only "happy" thing coming to my mind is a move like that will show Manchester United is extremely wealthy club. Why's that?

If Sir Alex Ferguson keeps Dimitar Berbatov in his team this will apparently costs him a lot of money. The club will lose about £5-10 millions if they do not sell him this summer because next year Manchester United won't get anything since the contract of Berbatov will expire. At the same time the club should pay Dimitar his huge salary and it will be about another £5 millions. If Ferguson uses Berbatov in 5 games during the next season this will result in a cost of a player per match equal to about £2-3 millions - probably another record, for the most expensive player per game.

Of course, there is a theoretical possibility that Sir Alex Ferguson gives Dimitar Berbatov a lot of playing time during the first half of the next season, Dimitar shows some awesome football and his price goes higher during the winter. But this is just imagination. We are talking about reality here and in this reality, statements like the ones Ferguson makes are hard to be understood. I know there is always politics and nice talking. But in the case with Berbatov a lot of money are involved and the saga with him continues quite too long already. Talking like this is just annoying and laughable if not ludicrous. So what is wrong with Sir Alex?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): An Unexpectedly Good Reboot

The Amazing Spider-Man
Movies about comic book heroes proved to be very popular in the last decade. Franchises were even rebooted in order to be exploited again and again. After the recent enormous success of The Avengers now comes the time of The Amazing Spider-Man. It will be unrealistic to expect that this movie is going to repeat The Avengers' success, neither that it will perform as well as it is anticipated from the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises. But the latest Spidey film is a good one and actually it is way better than 2007's Spider-Man 3 so the newest comic book reboot on the big screen deserves a few words.

In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker (this time played by Andrew Garfield) is expectedly bitten by a spider and subsequently turns into a superhuman who becomes famous as Spider-Man. Up to then, Parker is a shy guy who is not among the coolest boys in his school and secretly loves Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Gwen is assistant to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) who appears to have worked with Peter Parker's dad in the past on projects trying to enhance human abilities and resistance. After a hasty experiment Dr. Connors mutates into a powerful reptile-like creature known as The Lizard. Now Parker has the task to save himself, his love and the city from the menacing doctor.

What is good about this movie is that it has abandoned some of the annoying treatments in the previous versions of the Spider-Man franchise. For example (eventual spoilers ahead), now, we are not constantly tormented why Peter has to hide his superhero self from the girl he loves (Mary Jane in the past) cause it is not long before he elegantly uncovers his secret side in front of Gwen. He makes a promise later that he will stay away from her in the future but again his human side reveals he probably won't obey the pledge. I find this kind of behavior preferable compared to the excessive dramatization of the former three Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. This time the story is touching without being overly melodramatic.

Another good difference is that Gwen has a bigger part in the events that happen than being just a love interest like Mary Jane. The special effects are also good and the script is decent for a movie based on comics. I've read various complaints against the script and/or the director but I think the direction is satisfactory too. Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans fit very well the roles they play. Sally Field and Martin Sheen skilfully perform the supporting characters of Peter's aunt and uncle. The same is valid for Denis Leary as Gwen's dad Captain Stacy.

There are some weak spots (e.g., Dr. Connors "evil" motivation is a bit underdeveloped, his relationship with Peter Parker's father is somehow not fully disclosed) but as a whole the story is interesting enough to keep your attention and there are not distracting or boring parts. What I find to be distracting and unnecessary though is the use of 3D in the movie but apparently the 3D technology is something we have to bear more and more often in the films that are coming.

Whether a reboot of the series has been needed is disputable but at least the new film has brought some changes (especially concerning the main female character) that are welcome. So if you are in the right mood for comic book movies the new Spidey is a good choice. I'll even take the liberty to say that without being exceptional in anything, The Amazing Spider-Man is at least a better film than the box-office smash The Avengers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ran (1985): A Great Achievement by a Great Director

Ran is an easy recommendation even if you've seen many of Akira Kurosawa's masterpieces in black and white. For Ran is arguably his greatest achievement in color. And although his black and white movies are among the best films ever made, seeing a Kurosawa work in color is a significant experience on its own. Ran is not only shot in color, it is colorful. It's long and exhausting but memorable and beautiful. It offers expert direction and cinematography. It's rich of splendid costumes and it's visually gorgeous. Ran is not the lightest movie for watching. Despite its occasional funny moments, the film is sad and painful but like any creation of a true master, every second is worthy of your attention.

Ran is Akira Kurosawa's version of Shakespeare's King Lear. Yet there are many differences between the film and William Shakespeare's play, especially in the details. The setting is Japanese and the specific language style of Shakespeare is missing. The story is about the elderly Lord Hidetora Ichimonji who decides to abdicate and make room for his sons. He wants to give a castle to each three of them while only keeping the title of the Great Lord for himself. But the youngest son Saburo warns the Lord about the threat he should expect of his older brothers Taro and Jiro. The father neglects the warning and banishes Saburo. Soon, it appears that the youngest son has been right.

Ran depicts the often happening in reality drama of envy, revenge and kinship rivalry. The brothers are not the only plotters here. The movie also involves a vindictive woman, Lady Kaede, the spouse of the oldest son, whose family and possessions have been destroyed by the Great Lord. Contrary to her, Lady Sue, the wife of the second brother is peaceful and not hostile despite having the same (if not worse) fate as Lady Kaede. Surprisingly, Lord Hidetora has a hard time through both of his daughters-in-law. The first brings him havoc, the second remorse.

Lord Hidetora Ichimonji has a court fool who is of course funny but simultaneously possesses his own wisdom and often suffers not less than his master. Ran is discouraging movie. The hope and the good deeds although not entirely missing are almost lost in the web of factitious human relationships, guilt, retribution, punishment, betrayal, humility and suffering. The freshest air is coming from the magnificent scenery and the exuberant use of colors. The colors are not only eye-catching but also utilized to make the characters and factions more distinguishable.

There are a few very minor issues with the movie that could be easily omitted. Instead I prefer to mention two other subjects. I don't know if presence of jesters has been common in Japanese courts so it is possible that Kyoami (Hidetora's fool) is a bit out of place in the Japanese setting of Ran. Nevertheless, Kyoami adds a very distinct flavour to the movie and he is one of the characters that stick to your mind. On the other hand, the youngest son's language in the initial scenes with his father is a bit harsh but I suppose this is not so unnatural in Japan where even the normal Japanese talking often sounds like coming from people who are in the middle of a quarrel.

The movie demonstrates ones again that those who speak the truth are not welcome and people prefer listening to lies and flattering. The masterful presentation of this and other sides of life makes Ran a classic film. It is a great achievement by a great director and everyone who is serious about movies should see it at least once.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Get the Gringo aka How I Spent My Summer Vacation (2012)

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Mel Gibson has been recently treated as a very bad guy by many people in real life. Probably this is the main reason why a decent movie like Get the Gringo has been directly released on DVD and Blu-ray discs without paying a visit to the cinema theaters (at least in the USA) first. Gibson has been labelled racist thus some see racism even in the title of Get the Gringo, which is a bit of a forced assertion. In unison with the accusations and similar to his past movie Payback, Mel Gibson plays a bad guy in the also known as How I Spent My Summer Vacation film. But the movie is actually good and it deserves a review despite Gibson's personal life.

In Get the Gringo, Mel Gibson performs the role of a criminal who is arrested by the Mexican police after stealing a lot of money and put in a hard to survive prison. The place is even tougher for outsiders but he is helped by a 10-year-old boy who stays in the jail with his mother. The boy has a secret, which makes him valuable for the local crime boss factually running the prison. Everyone else is against the gringo and he has not much time to save himself and the boy. The only other advantage he can rely on is his creativity.

As in Payback, Gibson's character is a criminal but along the course of the film we begin to care for him more and more. There is a bit of a character development so we can see there's also good in him although you should not expect really much in that direction from a movie like this. The gringo constantly uses smart tricks to ably outwit his adversaries, which easily appeals to the audience and since he does not kill innocent people it's not hard for him to get our sympathy despite his professional occupation.

The boy (Kevin Hernandez) is not annoying as sometimes happens with kids in such roles. The boy's acting is natural and he is not involved in any highly improbable stuff. The latter is reserved for Gibson, of course. Speaking of improbability, in the vein of Payback, Mel Gibson undertakes several fearless initiatives, which would be lethally dangerous in real life but fit perfectly well in the narrative of the movie.

There is a good portion of Spanish dialogue in the movie, which may bother some people. For me, it just makes the film more authentic. There is also a good deal of violence so the content is not suitable for everybody. The movie does not offer any general surprises and except for the details (which are the major virtues of the film anyway) it is easy to predict how everything will develop and end.

Get the Gringo does not sport the epic proportions of Braveheart or Apocalypto. Its actual continuance is less than 90 minutes but this just makes the movie well paced and reduces the superfluous content to minimum. The film is in no way a masterpiece or mandatory for seeing but it offers a high-grade entertainment if nothing more.