Review - How I Spent My Summer Vacation


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  • Gibson, gangsta style, in Get the Gringo
  • backdrop

Mel Gibson, you crazy person, we missed you!
How I Spent My Summer Vacation (2012)
Adrian Grunberg
Mel Gibson
Release Date:
Age Rating:
A wily criminal finds himself trapped in an unusual Mexican prison as new and old enemies alike work to recover the money he stole.

The posters for How I Spent My Summer Vacation proudly proclaim ‘Mel Gibson is back’ and while I’d dearly love to say that this film will single-handedly reignite the fallen star’s wavering career, it is a step in the right direction. Or at least away from opportunities to make a bigger ass of himself.

Whatever the troubles of his private life, Mel Gibson is a movie star and elevates this rather minor effort to a near watchable level. Reams of voice over make great use of his distcintive voice while the film thrives on watching him go about his nefarious business, even throwing in a couple of action scenes for those who have missed the antics of Riggs and other genre defining characters on screen.

The film is the feature directorial debut of Adrian Grunberg – who has worked second unit on everything from Traffic to Man on Fire and Jarhead. He teamed up with Gibson as first AD on Apocalypto and the actor has clearly been instrumental in setting up this first helming effort – setting up the film at his own Icon production company and working on the script with Grunberg and fellow newcomer Stacy Perskie.

Despite the trio of writers, the script itself is a little half baked – layering on chunks of semi-noirish voice over in search of something resembling atmosphere. It only half works and that listlessness isn’t helped by a lead character who sorely lacks for an actual mission for fully two thirds of the running time.

Once Mel finally chances upon a plot, things improve markedly in Summer Vacation but it all happens a little late, with a major confrontation curtailed and the finale itself almost irreparably messy. Action fans should note that, despite Gibson bullet-timing all over the poster, there are few pyrotechnics in the film itself bar one well executed shoot out.

That are times when I couldn’t help wishing Gibson himself was directing How I Spent My Summer Vacation. With his eye for impressive imagery and excellent command of action, it might have made the film truly exceptional. But Gibson fans will have to make do with another compelling performance from the man instead, complete with the charm and fluid physicality we’ve come to expect from one of our few remaining movie stars.

Heading straight to Video on Demand on the states, How I Spent can’t escape the fact that it was made on a budget and sometimes resembles a bottom drawer effort featuring a washed up star but it’s a rare opportunity to see Gibson on screen once more and is a perfectly competent slice of b-grade action fare.

6 Stars
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