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Get the Gringo by Antonio Pinto

Get the Gringo

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Get the Gringo (Soundtrack) by Antonio Pinto
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Get the Gringo (Soundtrack) by Antonio Pinto

Get the Gringo
Composed by Antonio Pinto
Lakeshore Records (2012)

Rating: 6/10

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“As things are, it’s a decent, regional score that serves its purpose well and just barely secures its rating, but don’t break out of a Mexican prison just to acquire it.”

Pinto Driver
Review by Edmund Meinerts

 

Based on the UK title of HOW I SPEND MY SUMMER VACATION, one might be forgiven for initially thinking GET THE GRINGO is the latest sun-soaked romantic comedy – but the “gringo” in question, played by Mel Gibson, is spending his summer vacation in a Mexican prison, which would make an unusual location indeed for such a film. Rather, this is a gritty thriller in which the main character’s only name (other than “gringo”) is “Driver”…pretty reminiscent of last year’s extremely well-received gritty thriller, no? Gibson’s character finds an unlikely ally in a 10-year-old boy, who teaches him the ropes and in turn needs to be saved from a crime boss who is after his liver (due to them sharing a rare blood type). The flick got a theatrical release in a few countries, but in the USA, it went straight to video-on-demand; not exactly a stunning comeback for Gibson and his damaged public image, though his performance is by all reports decent here.

The score is provided by ANTONIO PINTO, a relatively unknown composer, but one with some experience with similarly gritty films such as LORD OF WAR (likely the highest-profile entry in his filmography). Here, as there, PINTO takes a relatively low-key approach to his score, providing a mostly themeless thriller ambience spiced with Latin accents that play to the film’s setting. Described like that, it doesn’t sound like anything special – and it isn’t, really. But the brief score of less than half an hour in length makes for a surprisingly pleasant background listen. In a way, it’s like a combination of Antonio Pinto, but far more accessible than either of those composers’ scores tend to be.

The first cue, “La Frontera” (3) (not counting the two songs at the beginning of the album), is driven by light percussion and guitars of both the acoustic and electric variety – much like the rest of the score. A brief, melancholic and very pretty interlude for female vocal, reminiscent of ENNIO MORRICONE, steals the show (an element that, sadly, is not explored further). A pair of trumpets kick a bit of mariachi flair into the cue towards the end. “Driver Sets Fire” (4) is much in the same vein. “He Killed My Father” (5) is a very restrained, reflective piece for acoustic guitar and echoing synth pads, and will definitely be reminiscent of SANTAOLALLA.

The score continues in this vein, with the guitars never too far away. A handful of individual moments do stand out from the rest. “Shoot Out” (6) contains perhaps the score’s most interesting moment, at 0:36, which can only be described as a mariachi version of the famous echoing trumpet effect from JERRY GOLDSMITH’s PATTON (though the cue also contains the harshest electric guitar playing later on). From the engaging “Make My Day” (7) onwards, a solo cello is added to the score’s palette. The music gets a little darker as it progresses, with more ominous synthetic tones entering the fray in “U.S. Bound” (9) and culminating in “Final Confrontation” (10), a cue that doesn’t quite live up to the excitement promised by its title. It does contain a brief passage of heightened activity from what sounds like a synthesized string group, but that’s just a weak imitation of similar JOHN POWELL sounds. “Sunny Day in Mexico” (11) then concludes the straight score section with a return to the more upbeat, acoustic sound. PINTO also wrote a song for the film, “CallesSecas” (12) – its tone is more or less consistent with the score, though an entertaining pair of saxophones steals the show from the actual Spanish-language boy vocalists.

GET THE GRINGO’s very short album – only 23 minutes once all the songs are removed – is both a boon and a detraction. Boon because this sort of competent but thematically nondescript underscore does become tedious when stretched out to great lengths, and detraction because you simply aren’t getting a whole lot of music for your buck. The music that you are getting features some interesting, authentic textures and guitar work, but it is never more than pleasantly functional. Its best moments – for example, the vocal in the opening cue and the echoing trumpets in “Shoot Out” (6) – are frustratingly brief, and had PINTO explored them more thoroughly, the score might have had a chance to stand out a little more. As things are, it’s a decent, regional score that serves its purpose well and just barely secures its rating, but don’t break out of a Mexican prison just to acquire it.

 

Rating: 6/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain (Ten Years After) 7:38  N/A
2 Padre Nuestro (Los Fabulosos Cadillacs) 3:36  N/A
3 La Frontera 2:51  ****
4 Driver Sets Fire 1:55  ***
5 He Killed My Father 2:14  ***
6 Shoot Out 2:43  ***
7 Make My Day 2:11  ****
8 Butterballs 1:40  ***
9 U.S. Bound 1:56  ***
10 Final Confrontation 5:17  ***
11 Sunny Day in Mexico 2:33  ***
12 CallesSecas 4:18  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 35 minutes  

 

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