How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Starring: Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare
With Hollywood turning its back on their former favourite son, Mel Gibson has written, produced and financed his latest venture. He plays a nameless driver arrested on the Mexican border with a dead partner and a lot of cash in his car.
Thrown into a hellish local prison and wanted on both sides of the border, he must fight to survive, enlisting the help of a young boy (Kevin Hernandez) and his mother.
A sequel of sorts to his 1999 thriller Payback (although his character's identity is never fully revealed), the story is an often muddled mix of prison drama and action-comedy as punches and punchlines are delivered in equal measure.
The director Grunberg points an unflinching and grainy lens on the bloodshed, which punctuates the film's lighter moments with startling regularity.
For many parts of this gritty, bloody film, Gibson gives flashes of his former self. A lot of the exuberance of his past performances may have faded, and it is difficult to separate the actor from the headlines, however the charm and humour that made him a worldwide superstar still remain, particularly in his scenes with Hernandez (himself quite charismatic).
One disappointment in the cast is Stormare, somewhat cartoonish as the irate Frank. Echoes of the directors Sam Peckinpah and John Huston are met with a lead actor who clearly still has something to offer his craft, but How I Spent My Summer Vacation is in essence an entertaining but trashy crime drama that chooses shock and awe over something more meaningful.