Playing former Expendable turned adversary Conrad Stonebanks, Mel Gibson continues his Hollywood return following a rough few years. I love the guy and his work so it will be interesting to see how the next several years play out in this town of hypocrites and judgers. Now let's look back at some of the flicks that led Gibson to joining The Expendables franchise:
Mad Max, 1979 - The role that launched a career, Gibson played Australian policeman Max Rockatansky, out for revenge against a sadistic motorcycle gang in a dystopian future. I didn't grow up with Mad Max and honestly haven't seen it more than once. Same goes for the beloved sequel The Road Warrior and third installment, Beyond Thunderdome. But it was Gibson's first hit, a franchise and arguably most identifiable role until...
Maverick, 1994 - An update of the James Garner western television series, the film finds Gibson as a smooth talking yet confrontation averting gambler on his way to a big game worth $250,000 bucks in old timey money. A nice mix of humor and six shooting, horse riding action, Gibson shines as the charming yet somewhat shady Bret Maverick and looks to be having a ball along with co-stars Jodie Foster, James Garner, Graham Greene and James Coburn.
Braveheart, 1995 - Would you believe I've never actually seen Gibson's 2nd directorial effort that netted 10 Academy Award nominations and won the man statues for Best Picture and Director? Sure, I know all about the "Freeeeedom!" and whatnot but for whatever reason this flick just passed me by in 1995 and I've never revisited it even though I own it on DVD. I feel a film of this historic, epic scale needs to be witnessed on the big screen so I'll have to wait for it to come back around.
Ransom, 1996 - Playing a businessman instead a cop or warrior, Gibson acquits himself nicely as a dedicated dad just trying to get his son back in this 90's thriller. A handsomely produced picture with a stellar supporting cast including Lethal Weapon co-star Rene Russo, Delroy Lindo, Gary Sinise, Liv Schreiber, Lili Taylor and Donnie Wahlberg. Ron Howard delivers a solid for adults flick with real life implications on the horror of what it must be like to have your child abducted and then delivers the movie goods when dad won't play victim and goes after the kidnappers.
The Patriot, 2000 - A change of pace from masters of disaster Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, The Patriot has Gibson as a former soldier living peaceably as a farmer and father in the days of The Revolutionary War. When an evil Brit kills one of his sons and arrests another, it's time for Benjamin Martin to open up a chest of whup ass...and muzzle loading rifles...and tomahawks! Seriously, the scene of Martin rescuing son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) is one of the best examples of movie fathering I've ever seen. He places two of his younger sons on high ground and has them take out the troops from afar while dad goes in double fisting blades. Of course there's more to the role and film than that as Gibson gives a serious and nurturing performance as a dad just trying to keep his family together. But when you BLEEP with him, he'll BLEEP with you, hard!
Edge of Darkness, 2010 - Gibson's first starring role in 7 years following directing the mammoth hit The Passion of the Christ and experiencing the first of several public incidents, Edge has him in full on Liam Neesons mode for a dark, stark and shocking tale of revenge and corporate conspiracy. When his daughter is murdered, Detective Craven uncovers her secret activist life and a local weapons manufacturers dirty dealings. Action is sparse but well used to jolt the audience and Gibson again does a solid job of playing a stern yet sympathetic character just looking for the truth.