For as far back as I can remember I’ve always watched Mel Gisbon on screen. When I was a child I was absolutely obsessed with the classic that is chicken run. I would watch that film over and over and over again, I’m sure I had my mother’s head fried. Then as I grew older I found the Lethal Weapon movies and instantly was drawn to the charisma and unhinged energy that he brought to the role of Martin Riggs. Later I watched the Mad Max films with the insane post apocalyptic world in which it’s set and I really enjoyed the Road Warrior.
My real love for Mel Gibson came one afternoon when I went down to see my uncle Tommy, he lived in a granny flat with us for a while when I was younger and we always watched movies together and chatted down there. I remember one evening coming in on the torture scene at the end of Braveheart and he said “Oh no Ian you’ll ruin the end of the film on yourself”. I remember seeing William Wallace being tortured and screaming out for freedom and how my uncle screamed along with him because he’d seen the film 100 times before. I was mesmerized and I went and watched the film the first chance I got. I’ve always found Mel Gibson to have an incredible talent or charisma on screen, his ability to plan an insanely likeable insane person in unbelievably impressive. Braveheart was the first of his big films that I became obsessed with and still love watching to this day. What Gibson does for the character of William Wallace is give him such humanity and tragedy. William Wallace is a tragic character, one of the most tragic in an epic film such as Braveheart. Gibson navigates the emotional and heartbreaking scenes with such openness and tenderness while being so animalistic and full of rage in the battle scenes. It’s this duality that would serve Mel Gibson so well throughout his entire career.
In the trilogy of Mad Max films from director George Miller and Mel Gibson as the lead Max Rockatansky. The post apocalyptic world is set in Australia where water and gasoline are the most valuable resources in the world. In a world ravaged by the nuclear holocaust only former cop Max can be the renegade hero from the stuff of folklore. The quadrilogy of Mad Max films works well as an anthology series as some characters and actors play totally different depending on the film you’re watching. I tend to think of these films as stories handed down by word of mouth and Max is our hero in the apocalypse. Gibson does a lot with the character with little dialogue aside from the first film and even then he barely speaks much. It’s a very physical performance which Gibson gives plenty of intensity and a heap of madness that only he can do.
Mel Gibson’s turn as Martin Riggs with his teaming up with Danny Glover’s Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon is the stuff of legend. The pair are the original Buddy cop formula done to perfection with the balance of action and comedy hitting just right. Martin Riggs is a former military sniper who’s grieving the loss of his wife. He’s a suicidal cop on the edge when we first meet him and as the films progress we follow Riggs on his journey towards happiness. As the films progress they get funnier and funnier with the fourth film being a straight up comedy. Gibson gives Martin Riggs a serious mental tone with his eyes screaming madness from behind them whenever the moment calls for. Riggs is one of my favourite Gibson performances and his comedic timing and dynamic with Murtaugh is what really is the gold of this film series. There’s a coolness and likeability of Martin Riggs right from the jump, we want to see this unhinged madman without fear of death take down the bad guys and crack a joke while doing it.
In the year 2000 Mel Gibson went back into the historical epic film’s with the Patriot. His turn as Benjamin Martin the US Patriot is once again the only man to unite his country. With similar themes and tones to Braveheart Gibson is again the reluctant hero only brought back into the battle due to his family being killed in this film, his son. Gibson is the honourable savage, a man who wishes more than anything to live a peaceful life but the war again here against the English won’t let that happen until war has finished. His father son dynamic with Heath ledger is one of this film’s strongest attributes. I remember watching this as a kid and playing red coats and blue coats with my toy soldiers after with my cousins, we were obsessed with this film. The battle scenes are so visceral and the cannonball explosions seem so horrific. The way the men stand in line and reload while they wait for the other army to shoot was so strange to me on a first viewing. Another bloody film as Gibson is fond of making, more on that when I get to him as a director. The Patriot is my favourite Roland Emmerich film the director is known for his big budget blockbusters like Independence Day or Moonfall but I think he does this historical epic with scale and care for it’s characters.
The Professor and the Madman
Since the mid 2000’s Gibson has mainly been directing but has made some notable films in the last decade. Dragged across concrete, Daddy’s home 2,Last Looks, Fatman and the Professor and the Madman. Gibson plays a character who’s creating the Oxford dictionary and with the help of a convicted killer played by Sean Penn he works on compiling the words together. This film was a very interesting story and had great performances from it’s two leads. Gibson was very convincing and compelling here without any of the violence or revenge here it’s purely a nuanced and powerful performance. It’s definitely a hidden gem of his career.
Gibson the Director
Mel Gibson has had a fantastic career as a film director. From Braveheart, The passion of the Christ, Apocalypto to Hacksaw Ridge. Mel Gibson is a storyteller of great intelligence,his visuals are so striking and impactful on the audience. This is on clear display in Apocolypto where none of the characters speak English and the story can be told without even reading a single subtitle. There is one thing about Gibson films and that’s that it’s always a bloody affair. There’s always an abundance of blood and violence whenever he’s behind the camera. In passion of the Christ and Braveheart there’s extended torture scenes with horrific violence on screen. In particular the crucifixion scene in Passion of the Christ where there’s nothing left to the imagination and at times it’s almost too much to watch. Hacksaw Ridge also had such bursts of violence in the second half of the film there’s some of the most terrifying and visceral battle scenes put to film.
The list of films of Mel Gibson that I’ve watched and enjoyed seem endless from; Ransom, Maverick,Payback, Signs, The Bounty, Air America or Conspiracy theory. The list of entertaining films goes on and on.
Mel Gibson has proved to be a tremendous talent in front of and behind the camera. He became a charismatic movie star and turned into a tremendous Director and character actor as the years and decades have progressed. It’s for all of these reasons he’s remained one of my favourite actors.