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How I Spent My Summer Vacation


Stars: Mel Gibson, Dolores Heredia, Kevin Hernandez, Peter Stormare, Jésus Ochoa, Dean Norris, Daniel Jiménez Cacho, Bob Gunton, Scott Cohen, Patrick Bauchau

Director: Adrian Grünberg

It's not so much a vacation Gibson's career criminal 'Dick Johnson' - 'I know,' he says, 'it's unfortunate' - is planning, more of a getaway with the several million dollars he's just stolen. Hotly pursued by California police, he crashes a border barrier and is taken into custody by corrupt Mexican cops after they spot the money he's carrying.

He's thrown into a totally out-of-control, sort-of-open multi-sex prison called El Pueblito where 'protection', drug dealing, prostitution and gambling are rife - 'like a mall from hell', as our anti-hero describes it - suffering a few hefty beatings before using his wits to escape from the filthiest of conditions.

'Johnson' also encounters a 10-year-old tike (Hernandez) who bums cigarettes from him, blackmails him after spotting his wheeze to steal money from the dealers, and eventually acts as his lookout. The kid also has the liver that may save the life of prison kingpin Javi (Cacho), and his mother (Heredia) is desperate to save him.

All the while, US underworld king Frank (Stormare) is on the trail of 'Johnson', believing the robber has stolen far more from him than he is letting on. It's a highly combustible combination, and Mel's fans will delight in seeing him get the upper hand on pretty well everyone (as well as giving a slightly over-the-top, Lethal Weapon-style performance that seems to reflect his own personality) before the end. The original title, Get the Gringo, was better, but perhaps it wasn't too PC.

Incidentally, what does a film have to do to earn an '18' certificate these days?

David Quinlan

USA/Mexico 2011. UK Distributor: Lionsgate (Icon). Colour by deluxe.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 3, Swearing 3.

Review date: 06 May 2012