Mel Gibson is one of the great all-time movie stars. His screen charisma heightens any film that he appears in, and he’s no slouch behind the camera either, having helmed The Man Without A Face, Braveheart, The Passion Of The Christ and Apocalypto.
Mel Gibson has had problems in his personal and professional problems over the last decade. He was personally attacked by many for making his biblical masterpiece The Passion Of The Christ – it’s on record that he has struggled with alcohol, his 30 year marriage broke down, former girlfriend (and mother of his daughter) Oksana Grigorieva tried to shake him down for money after recording (and leaking tapes) of their arguments. Showgirls writer Joe” Eszterhas tried something similar after he handed Gibson a terribly written script on the Maccabees. Many shallow filmmakers and executives have turned their backs on Gibson, refusing to let him headline major films – he was even denied the opportunity to cameo in The Hangover II, as star Zach Galifianakis didn’t want to work with him – yet Zach has no problem working with Mike Tyson (a convicted rapist and wife beater). However, some people DO have the stones to work with Gibson. The likes of Jodie Foster and Robert Downey Jr have supported him and Gary Oldman has recently come out and defended Gibson (getting into a little hot water in the process). Directing rebel, Robert Rodriguez cast Gibson as the villain in Machete Kills, a role which showed that Gibson still has the talent and the charisma to to a viable leading man.
Sylvester Stallone’s masterstroke to cast him in The Expendables 3 may just cement Gibson’s comeback. Adding Gibson to his action ensemble sequel is a great idea, especially since he’ll be sharing the screen with the likes of other genre veterans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford. Lethal Weapon, Braveheart and Mad Max are standouts in their respective genres. Even his lesser works such as Maverick and Air America have an immense watchability factor because of Gibson’s charisma and screen presence. While the star also managed to convincingly tackle Shakespeare in Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs was Gibson’s highest grossing film, and he also delivered one of his finest performances. Gibson’s true passion (no pun intended) now appears to be directing, and his directorial efforts appear to be developing a sense of style and energy that could well make him an iconic director as well as an iconic star. He may not be prolific – but he has managed to build an incredible filmography. A Man Without A Face was his small-scale debut, but he embraced the epic with Braveheart, The Passion of The Christ and Apocalypto. The latter three show an understanding of action and Mise-en-scène that a million Michael Bays could simply never master.
More recent roles have seen Gibson tackling edgier material in the likes of The Edge of Darkness and The Beaver and How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Get The Gringo). These may not have scored at the box office, but they show a fearless actor willing to stretch himself. He turned down the chance to return to the role of Mad Max in George Miller’s Fury Road, a move which would have been very lucrative.
Part of me has often wished that the Oscar-winning director would quit Hollywood altogether and move to Europe to direct. No one embraces eccentric behaviour quite like the Europeans and Gibson’s gritty directing style would work well within the European film industry. Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto were all barnstorming epics with a unique directorial vision and one wonders what Gibson could achieve without the restrictions of Hollywood or the MPAA…He’s made the first foray into working in Europe by taking the lead in the French funded (but US shot) Blood Father, a gritty thriller that sounds like the perfect use of Gibson’s gritty talents.
Mel Gibson will never quit filmmaking. It’s clear that he loves it too much, be it as an actor, director or producer. Hollywood has changed in recent years and has become fearful of making choices that aren’t sure things (hence the glut of comic book sequels and remakes). Gibson is a true Maverick, willing to takes risks and many studios, executives and agents are using his personal life as a way of keeping him from achieving his vision. These people don’t care about art, they only care about the bottom line and creating soulless reputations as rainmakers. There are a few willing to stand-up and make bold decisions, hiring men like Mel Gibson who put their all into pushing the boundaries of movie making. However, it is the many who lack the faith and the vision to trust Gibson in mainstream Hollywood movies. Mel Gibson is driven, passionate, talented, a man of deep religious faith, but he is not, nor ever should be, expendable.