Say what you will about Mel Gibson and the turn his career has taken, you can’t deny that he still brings it with every role. The ‘it’ being the badassness he’s always brought to every role ever since 1979 and a little film called Mad Max. Get the Gringo isn’t any different. He’s teamed up with some of the producers of Apocalypto to helm this film that was shot in a decrepit Mexican prison. It’s certainly a unique take on a similar hero story we’ve all seen Mel Gibson take command of before, but this still manages to feel a little different.

The film starts out with Mel Gibson and an unknown accomplice escaping from police along the Mexican/US border. His partner is dying and bleeding all over a large amount of money that has clearly been stolen, they’re both dressed as clowns, and all of a sudden, Driver (Mel Gibson’s character doesn’t have a name) careens into the fence and just as quickly and frantically as the film began, Driver is in Mexico and in custody of the Mexican Federal Officials. Knowing he wants to find his money one day, he is compliant with all officials as he is put into a prison that is more like a small city within a city. It’s a thriving (loose term) community with it’s own hierarchy within it. Driver doesn’t know the ropes, but a 10 year old kid (he doesn’t have a name either) does, and he’s more than willing to help Driver out as long as he keeps giving him cigarettes.

From there the plot goes off in a lot of directions but where this film really works is that in such a vast environment like this prison, there’s never a wasted moment. What feels like a film that doesn’t a wasted moment was validated by the filmmakers in attendance at the screening I was at. They said roughly 97% of what they shot made it into the film. Mel Gibson, as stated earlier is as badass as he’s ever been, and he proves that whether it’s a hero with an edge or one with a heart of gold, he can do both exquisitely. This film however doesn’t live or die on the quality of Gibson’s performance, it’s almost as if the film knows he’s gonna bring a good performance regardless. This story is about the Kid (Kevin Hernandez, The Sitter), and he carries the story effortlessly. It’s a much more rounded character than he played in The Sitter so it can be kind of surprising at times seeing him go toe to toe with a legend like Mel Gibson and not only deliver, but carry a film that Gibson doesn’t.

Besides Mel, Get the Gringo doesn’t have a lot of star power, although the eventual villain of the film is no doubt a favorite amongst movie fans, and that reveal won’t be spoiled here. It’s way better than your average direct-to-video release, and even better than some of the early in year theatrical releases.

Get the Gringo will be available May 1st on VOD on DirectTV, and on Blu-ray and DVD soon after that. Check it out if you can, it’s definitely worth a viewing.