The journey and life of Jesus Christ in film and television has always struggled, ironically, with the connotations of faith that surround him. Fictional works that allude to or talk of Christianity are far greater tools than those that wish to adapt the death of Christ because they have the benefit of artistic merit and metaphorical wisdom. Controversial The Passion of the Christ may be, credit must be given to Mel Gibson’s directing efforts here. He has attempted to channel his own belief into an adaptation of Christ’s final days and the dabbling’s of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel The Last Temptation of Christ lingers both on-screen and on the script.
Love it or loathe it, nobody can take away the ambition found within Apocalypto and the controversial director behind it. Mel Gibson has bold ideas that are presented well in his early works. From an entertaining butchering of William Wallace’s life in Braveheart to a muddled and simple, but emotionally effective look at war in Hacksaw Ridge, the man has clear talent. He puts that to perplexing use in Apocalypto, a feature that depends fully on his ability to visualise a story. Violence and butchery is his way of doing so. Whether that is effective or not is up in the air. It certainly makes for strong scenes and interesting cinematography but the meaning behind it plays fast and loose with the Mayan language and the warlike ambiguity Gibson tries to incorporate.
We are barely comfortable hearing our own thoughts, so how Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) handles hearing the thoughts of every woman around him is beyond us audience members. But there is an impassable, fascinatingly strange sentiment to What Women Want that, inevitably, settles on the mind rather uncomfortably these days. His cocky charisma is unwarranted and odd, but the main crux of this feature from Nancy Meyers. In Meyers we trust. If she wishes for us to put our faith into Gibson as what a whole gender wishes to be infatuated with, then who are we to disagree? What Women Want is disastrously interesting, its inherent charm is the inevitable change that will occur, but whether that change is redeeming or not is not on the mind of Gibson, Meyers or anyone else.
Passion is a strange, fleeting feeling. What we may aspire to do or be may feel repugnant or worthy of dismissal on a second look. Director George Miller had a clear vision when he set out to make both Mad Max and Mad Max 2. It is a duo that features a good bit of entertainment and provides Miller with the opportunity to understand and grow his apocalyptic world. Was a third instalment necessary? Not particularly, no, for there is only so much one can do with the titular, rage-induced Max (Mel Gibson). He is mad, and as it transpires, not much else. His third outing, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, offers a bulkier budget and bigger set pieces, but something feels off almost immediately.
What a truly strange career Mel Gibson has. Only four years after he directed the awards darling and surprisingly solid Hacksaw Ridge, he finds himself in a festive-themed action flick. How the mighty titans of the industry have fallen, but this isn’t the first time Gibson has featured himself in an uphill struggle. He’s dug himself out of the controversy void once before with The Beaver, but I don’t think Fatman, a film in which he plays a modern imagining of Santa Claus, is a film that will do him any favours. Maybe that’s cynical of me, his career was re-launched with the help of a beaver sock puppet, so perhaps having this controversial figure of Hollywood play a character encapsulated by cheer and goodwill is the power play he’d need for a third run in the big leagues.
The sheer joy of watching a somewhat fictionalised rendition of William Wallace cutting through the countryside of Scotland and England depends entirely on how far you can lean into the directing style and acting on display throughout Braveheart. A film riddled with problems from the very beginning, it’s surprising just how much Mel Gibson’s critical darling has to offer. Its inaccuracy aside, Braveheart looks to offer up an adaptation of the life Wallace finds himself leading, a living legend for the people of Scotland and the rebellion that took place against the English lords and kings.
Buddy cop films have, thankfully, died out almost completely. It feels like only yesterday I was sat in stunned silence watching CHiPS, but I have indeed recovered from that torture. The 20th century was a time of greatness for the tag-team duos to make their way through the streets of America. Lethal Weapon is not just one of the most well-known, but retrospectively the best the genre had to offer. A rag-tag teaming of a suicidal, manic officer and a veteran of the field who’s closer to retirement than he is to any form of promotion or fresh chance in the field of police work.