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By Alex Lynchehaun
It’s that time of year again; Mel Gibson is once more surrounded by allegations of anti-Semitism. Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhas has accused him of ‘hating Jews’ and recorded a Gibsonian diatribe about ‘oven dodgers’ (a recording of which can be heard on all good video-uploading websites). Mel has been offending homosexuals, Jews, Mexicans and anyone against domestic violence for over twenty years. Add to this the news that his latest film, Get the Gringo, failed to garner a theatrical release in the US (great shakes are not expected when it opens on these shores next week) and it’s fair to say April has been a tough month for Mel.
Yet, there is a silver lining to his not insubstantial cloud. Miraculously, Robert Rodriguez wants Gibson for a role in Machete Kills, the sequel to the 2010 hit Machete. The second instalment will see Danny Trejo reprise his role as hard-boiled assassin Isador Cortez and Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams has also been linked with the project. Such a line-up would presumably recycle the original’s blueprint by booking a big-name cast, then spectacularly killing them. Neither De Niro nor Segal will be returning (the aforementioned death of their characters will probably put paid to that) but the rest of the 2010 cast are thought to be in talks.
Robert Rodriguez has made many odd choices in his career. Writing and directing a follow-up to a film originally conceived as a fake trailer for the Quentin Tarantino 2007 venture Grindhouse being just one of them. His 1992 breakthrough El Mariachi was preserved in the National Film Registry and deemed to have “helped usher in the independent movie boom of the early 1990s” by the United States Library of Congress. Deciding then to produce, write and edit sequels to idiosyncratic zombie flick From Dusk Till Dawn and then play auteur to all four instalments of the Spy Kids franchise was a real downturn in ambition. Similarly, 2005’s Sin City seemed to signal a renaissance but Rodriguez did not capitalise on its success.
So the decision to hire Mel Gibson, a man the cast and crew of the utterly unfiltered The Hangover Part II decided they didn’t want to work with, does not seem out of place with the Rodriguez model. In what other walk of life would you employ someone with such a chequered public image amid a global financial crisis? The myth that protagonists are all the more entertaining if they are portrayed by troubled people was debunked by Mel Gibson’s performance in The Beaver. Despite positive reviews, and being advertised in many circles as an opportunity to watch Gibson’s real life meltdown on screen, it was not a box-office success. Only when reverting to angsty-cop type in 2010 for The Edge of Darkness has Mel pulled in the punters.
Rodriguez must believe Gibson capable of delivering such a great performance that he is willing to overlook a history of bigotry. He may well be right. Let’s not forget how talented and charismatic a screen presence Gibson was when he burst onto the big screen with the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series. With no release yet confirmed, it will probably be some time before judgement can be passed on Mel and Robert’s joint venture. A positive reaction could lead to a role in the third part of the trilogy – the title of which leads us to question Rodriguez’s sanity once more. Here’s hoping Mel makes it makes the cut Machete Kills Again…In Space…and that he stops being publicly racist; though probably just that second one if there’s a choice.