April 2024


Mel Gibson

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

hacksawDIRECTOR: Mel Gibson

CAST: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey


The true story of Desmond Doss, the first Conscientious Objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving seventy-five men without firing a shot during the bloody Battle of Okinawa in WWII, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge (called the troubled actor-director’s “comeback project” in some circles) is a curious but overall effective blend of sappy cliches and graphic war violence, a film which initially threatens to come across like a generic “uplifting” story but—mostly when our pacifist protagonist finally goes to war around the halfway point—ultimately takes a turn to something far less sanitized but ultimately powerful and inspirational.   Continue reading

Blood Father (2016)

DIRECTOR: Jean-Francois Richet

CAST: Mel Gibson, Erin Moriarty, Diego Luna, William H. Macy, Michael Parks


One suspects this gritty but generic action thriller would have been direct-to-video if not for the presence of Mel Gibson, but while Blood Father is an unexceptional, sporadically involving Taken variation that never really rises above its B movie level, it provides an adequately diverting entry in its genre for those who have eighty-eight minutes to kill and aren’t too demanding. Continue reading

Signs (2002)

DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan

CAST: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones


For his latest venture, The Sixth Sense helmer and thinly-veiled Hitchcock wannabe M. Night Shyamalan has crafted a sparse, low-key thriller using an alien/home invasion scenario as a vehicle for a thinly-veiled parable about faith and predestination.

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The Patriot (2000)

patriotDIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich

CAST: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, Joely Richardson, Tcheky Karyo, Chris Cooper, Tom Wilkinson, Lisa Brenner, Rene Auberjonois, Adam Baldwin, Gregory Smith


With The Patriot, one gets the feeling screenwriter Robert Rodat was trying to do for the American Revolution what he previously did for WWII with Saving Private Ryan.  To an extent, he deserves credit, as The Patriot is, oddly enough, virtually the only big-budget Hollywood film portraying the Revolutionary War.  Alas, the man in the director’s chair here is not Steven Spielberg, but Roland Emmerich, he who leaves no cliche unused.  The Patriot is a marked improvement over its immediate predecessor on Emmerich’s filmography, 1998’s Godzilla bastardization, but features too many “a film by Roland Emmerich” hallmarks to be the true great war epic it clearly fancies itself. Continue reading

Payback (1999)

DIRECTOR: Brian Helgeland

CAST: Mel Gibson, Maria Bello, Gregg Henry, William Devane, James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Lucy Liu, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Jack Conley, John Glover, Deborah Kara Unger


Payback, from director and co-writer Brian Helgeland (Oscar-winning screenwriter of 1997’s LA Confidential in his directorial debut) is a deliciously hard-boiled crime caper and an ode to film noir.  It’s actually more-or-less a remake of John Boorman’s 1967 Point Blank, and both films are based on Richard Stark’s novel The Hunter, but Payback has enough style and personality to stand on its own as an engaging 100 minutes that serves up a noir-esque narrative, supplies a lineup of colorful characters, gives Mel Gibson some juicy one-liners to chew on, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Continue reading

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner


Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci, Chris Rock, Jet Li, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Steve Kahan, Mary Ellen Trainor, Kim Chan


Lethal Weapon 4 is a classic example of a sequel that was assembled to make money, not because of necessity or because there was even anywhere particularly fresh to take the story. There were rumors of its production since 1992, but development only rushed full-steam ahead once the reluctant Mel Gibson was convinced to return with a massive paycheck. In retrospect, no one should have bothered. Lethal Weapon 3 wasn’t as good as the first or second installment, but it would have been a much better place to end the popular series than this. Lethal Weapon 4 is a mess of a movie, a big, bloated, unwieldy, sputtering, past-its-prime cash grab that has a few entertaining moments scattered around but not enough to justify its existence, and creaks as badly as aging action heroes Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s joints. Continue reading

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner

CAST: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart, Steve Kahan


There’s a tantalizing glimpse of an edgier indie thriller/dark comedy somewhere within the genesis of Conspiracy Theory, but it’s buried within a “safe” thriller/mystery/romance potboiler. The result is watchable, and mildly entertaining, but it’s no more than mediocre as an action thriller, with a love story that somewhat strains credibility. It’s the kind of movie where one can see the cliched thriller/action/romance beats ticking themselves off.

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Ransom (1996)

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

CAST: Mel Gibson, Gary Sinise, Rene Russo, Delroy Lindo, Lili Taylor, Liev Schreiber, Donnie Wahlberg, Evan Handler, Brawley Nolte


Ron Howard is on a roll, and for his latest venture, coming on the heels of last year’s docudrama Apollo 13, he’s turned to the thriller genre, with this loose remake of the 1956 Glenn Ford film of the same name.  Ransom isn’t flawless, but Howard’s taut direction, a twisty-turny script by Richard Price and Alexander Ignon, and a capable cast add up to a slick thriller that provides a mostly solid couple hours of diversion. Continue reading

Braveheart (1995)

DIRECTOR: Mel Gibson

CAST: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Catherine McCormack, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Brendan Gleeson



For only his second outing behind the camera, Mel Gibson (who made his directorial debut in 1993’s The Man Without a Face, in which he also starred) has tackled the kind of ambitious undertaking Hollywood rarely mounts anymore, a grand epic throwback to the likes of Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia.  What might be more surprising is that he’s pulled it off in impressive fashion, showing he can handle a lavish production with large-scale battle scenes.  In fact, among the directorial debuts or near-debuts of actors-turned-directors, it’s the most impressive entry since Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves five years earlier.  Braveheart isn’t perfect, but it’s a rollicking, crowd-pleasing adventure painted on an epic scale with the kind of grandeur that might appeal to fans of Spartacus or The Last of the Mohicans. Continue reading

Maverick (1994)

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner

CAST: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Alfred Molina, James Coburn, Graham Greene


Maverick represents just about the perfect kind of breezy, enjoyable summer entertainment for those seeking a light diversion, both paying homage to and at times parodying the classic Western, moving smoothly between action, comedy, and a little romance, and featuring engaging performances from charismatic actors.  There might not be anything deep or substantial here, but for those just seeking some fun, Maverick plays with a full deck. Continue reading