Say what you want about Mel Gibson, he’s a hell of a director. He proves his commitment and his tenacity again and again, most recently with this work. Apocalypto bills itself as a story about destiny, but there really isn’t much destiny involved; Gibson describes the conception of the film as a stripped-down skeleton of the action-chase genre, and I can see where he is coming from; this film is very bare-bones, and works its angle right down to the core.
What makes this film work so well is how fully and completely you are enveloped into its vision. Gibson has such great skill at fully realizing his ideas that you can’t help but be absolutely sucked into the film; the foreign language aspect also helps this along a great deal. He also has a real twist for violence; all three of his films that made the list (Braveheart, Passion of the Christ, and this) all have some pretty heavy aspects of violence that take place in them, so if that’s not your sort of thing, you may be turned off by much of what happens in this film. My other possible concern isn’t with Gibson’s vision, but with how limited it is; for as long as the film runs, there really isn’t a whole lot that happens plot-wise. I couldn’t help but notice this as the film went on, but you might be better off than I was in this regard.
I know how much people want to dislike Mel Gibson, and their concerns are at least partly justified, but after watching Braveheart, Passion, and this, you have to give the guy some props; he knows what he is doing, in film at least. Personal life aside, I can say the somewhat controversial statement that I am a fan of Mel Gibson, or at least his work. Again, putting his personal life aside, this is a pretty high recommendation for those that want to be fully inside their films; this one accomplishes that to a greater degree than a lot of other films out there, and it’s a hell of a ride that you’ll certainly remember.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10