Bullet Points: El Gringo
In this installment of Bullet Points, I review the 2012 Scott Adkins film, El Gringo.
Prior to El Gringo, I had not seen one of Scott Adkins’ solo projects. I had seen him in The Bourne Ultimatum and The Expendables 2. And more recently I saw him along side Jean Claude Van Damme in Assassination Games. That is when Adkins really started winning me over.
El Gringo furthered my respect and admiration for Scott Adkins and his work in the action movie genre…
- The Premise: Scott Adkins is a cop fighting the war on drugs and not happy with the direction from his superior, Lt. West (played by Christian Slater). After a bloody shoot out leaves three of his partners dead, Adkins (who is never called by name, and is simply listed as The Man in The Credits and referred to as El Gringo by the townspeople later in the film) finds a bag of dirty drug money and basically says screw it, I’m going to Acapulco (this becomes a running joke through out the movie). So he plants his badge and ID on a fat dude named Tortuga, puts him in the trunk of a car and proceeds to set fire to the car, faking his own death and cutting all ties to the world he knew. But before he can get to paradise he has to stop into the little town of El Fronteras where he gets more than he bargained for.
- A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To El Fronteras: As he makes his way across the desert he sees some guys being abusive to a dog and puts a stop to it (Sarah McLachlan would be proud). You have to imagine after a bloody shoot out and a trek across the desert, The Man has worked up quite a thirst. Unfortunately in the skirmish with the dog abusers, the big jug of water they had at their camp fell over dumping the water into the dirt. The Man frees the dog and ends up with a companion on his way to El Fronteras.
- Welcome to El Fronteras: When The Man arrives in town he sees a water fountain, unfortunately the water fountain only produces some rusty sludge, that’s about the time Flaca and her switchblade show up, she wants the bag. What she gets is a broken nose, advice on how to hold a knife and loses her shirt in the process. The Man tries to buy a bottle of water at a convenience store, he is denied. He goes to a local restaurant and orders a glass of water, they tell him they are closed. Finally he ends up at a bar, owned and operated by Anna (Yvette Yates) he offers her $500 for a glass of water. She pours him a shot glass full of water and then reminds him about Montezuma’s Revenge.
- Law & Disorder: We meet the local sheriff, known as The Chief. The Chief has a real problem with stray dogs and also has a gang working for him. The gang is run by Culebra, who has a real problem with Flaca’s failure in getting the bag of money from El Gringo.
- Next Stop Acapulco: The Man heads to the bus station, but the lady behind the desk is not that forthcoming with information on the bus schedule at El Fronteras. She tells him there’s no bus today and that he should try back tomorrow. So The Man goes back to Anna’s bar, where he learns the bus actually comes into town every day at 2 PM, the bell rings in the tower to signify the bus’ arrival as he is talking to her. Since he missed the bus, he arranges to sleep in Anna’s attic for the night. As he is sleeping Anna checks his bag and sees the millions of dollars inside. The Man wakes up to Anna holding a knife to his neck and throwing the bag out the window, she doesn’t want his dirty money around. The Man races downstairs and outside to get his bag, which was retrieved by Flaca and now in the possession of Culebra. Culebra gives The Man his bag back and tells him he better make sure he is on the bus out of town tomorrow.
- She Won’t Give Up: Flaca really wants that bag… finding The Man sleeping on a bench outside, she snatches the bag and takes off. The Man quickly discovers she’s tied him to the bench as he goes after her, giving her a head start. But her head start is negated when he heads to the rooftops and is able to get the jump on her… literally. As he tackles her, some of the money flies out of the bag, attracting a lot of attention from the town. When Culebra finds out the contents of the bag, The Chief orders him to make sure The Man doesn’t get on the 2 PM bus.
- Ain’t That A Brick In The Head: Culebra and his men go on the offensive, they are going to follow orders and make sure The Man doesn’t get on the bus. The action really picks up as the time is ticking until 2 PM and The Man is taking out Culebra’s men left and right… he wants out of El Fronteras in the worst way. But time is not on his side, nobody can expect any man, even The Man, even Scott Adkins to do that much killing and still be able to catch the bus. Flaca once again gets her hands on the bag and is about to run off with it, when The Man warns her they will shoot her for the bag, moments later Culebra shows up and shoots Flaca as she is about to jump the wall with the bag, he’s about to shoot The Man too but Anna shows up and knocks out Culebra with a brick to the head… Anna then tends to wounds of The Man and makes him feel much better… if you know what I mean!
- West Goes South: About this time Lt. West shows up (against orders from his superiors) as he had a hunch that all four officers in that shoot out were not dead, and he was right. He calls The Man a disgrace for leaving his partners and taking the money. West turns over The Man and the money to The Chief and that’s when The Chief gives West his cut of the money… you see it was West who set the whole thing up to kill The Man in the first place because he was too good at his job.
- Car Chase: At this point, the movie has already been action packed, but it is as if everyone decided there wasn’t enough action and they had to take it up another notch by incorporating a car chase into the film. So West takes his money and runs (woo woo woo) back to the States but he did not expect to be pursued by The Man, who escaped a slow death from Culebra and stole a car.
- Meanwhile Back at El Fronteras: With The Man dealing with Lt. West, Culebra and his men torch Anna’s bar and make her watch. But if there’s one thing that will divert attention from a burning building it is a man passing out free money. The Man makes his way back to town, giving away his money to the townspeople, this has them rallying around him and standing up to Culebra and The Chief… who end up getting theirs in a most satisfying way.
El Gringo is heavy on the action, but it weaves its way into the story, so you aren’t being overloaded with a bunch of shoot outs and fist fights that are happening for no apparent reason… there is definitely a method to all the action madness in El Gringo.
Scott Adkins definitely brings that old school action star vibe to his movies. And the more movies of his I see, the more I can see why so many consider him the top action star of this generation. Most importantly, El Gringo left me wanting to see more of Scott Adkins’ work and that’s about as good as it gets.