How I Spent My Summer Vacation
starring Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez, Dolores Heredia, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Jesús Ochoa, Bob Gunton and Peter Stormare
screenplay by Adrian Grunberg, Mel Gibson and Stacie Perskie
directed by Adrian Grunberg
I am genuinely confused about the title of this picture. It’s either “How I spent my summer vacation,” or it’s “Get the Gringo” which actually makes more sense. The DVD box at the rental shop said “How I spent my summer vacation.” But the internet said something different. So my first idea was ire at the studios and a curse on them for not being clear about the title. American movies often have different titles in Japanese, but that is not the case with “How I spent my summer vacation” which was clearly written in the maker’s English information.
Gibson plays an unnamed American thief. After stealing millions from a drug dealer in the States he flees to Mexico. Dramatically crashes through the border fence in order to escape the American border patrol is more like it. Immediately corrupt Mexican cops confiscate the treasure in his car and throw him in a Mexican prison to rot. “Rot” is really the right word. South of the border the inmates practically run the prison in a bizarre world where everyone is corrupt and the prison is like a small town inhabited by the inmates families. It’s penitentiary/corrections culture shock. Gibson spends much of the film simply watching the Mexican inmates and trying to figure the place out. He hides the fact that he speaks Spanish until late in the film. From the get-go he is scheming his escape, which at first appears ridiculously impossible. But since everyone is corrupt, he actually accomplishes it when he figures out how things work and who is in control.
In prison Mel befriends a 10-year old boy who is protected by Javi, an inmate leader who runs the rackets and pretty much controls the inmate population. Javi needs the boy’s rare blood type and liver to sustain his own life. In the end Gibson saves himself, the boy and his mother. He’s a resourceful tough guy who isn’t irredeemably bad.
The drug dealer Gibson stole from - Peter Stormare - wants his money back even though the thief who took it is in a foreign jail and the foreign cops stole it in turn. Assassins are sent into the prison. They fail, but it’s a spectacular gunfight. Everyone wants the money, in fact, and the suspicion that Gibson stole more than what the Mexican police confiscated means he’s a target for everyone. Controlling that information is all that’s saving him from assassination. Some want him dead to take his money. Others want to torture him to find the rest of it and then kill him. Others want to kill him just because they don’t like him. I don’t blame them.
Large tracts of the film are in Spanish with no English subtitle available. The only Setup choice on my Japanese CD was Japanese subtitles on or Japanese subtitles off. Although it was interesting to hear Spanish is was still a drag. I think it is a good movie, but I personally did not like it very much.