Buffa: In Defense of Mel Gibson

Can we stop hating Mel Gibson? Has it been long enough for the people with feelings to allow him back into the good graces of Hollywood and let him exhibit his ferocious talent?

This kind of talent that is on full display with November's "Hacksaw Ridge", the film that required a ten minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival this past summer and chronicles the heroic exploits of Private Desmond Doss, who served in World War II without the use of a weapon.

Has it been long enough? I think so.

News flash: Nobody is perfect. There isn't a single soul out there that doesn't carry some dirt.

Gibson famously went on an anti-semitic rant over a decade ago and lost his cool again on his girlfriend on tape a few years ago. He's been shunned ever since. I am not saying the slamming of the Jewish community should be taken lightly, but Mel has paid his dues. If someone went on an anti-Italian or anti-Lebanese rant, I couldn't care less. Sometimes, people lose their nerve and say bad things. It's part of life and what makes us human and flawed. 

Gibson has acted in just five films since 2005 and that's a crime. It's no secret. Hollywood won't take a real shot unless he is behind the camera and not in front of it. His role as the heel in the latest "Expendables" adventure was the highlight of an otherwise silly retread of a sequel. Seeing old lions like Gibson and Sylvester Stallone go head to head was glorious for an 1980's action junkie. I want more of that. 

Give me another "Payback", one of the most underrated films from the past 20 years and a Brian Hedgeland gem. Give me another "Lethal Weapon" with Gibson and Danny Glover as old cops in a young world. Let "Lethal Weapon 2" scribe Shane Black write it(and get his wish to finally kill off Martin Riggs). Give me more MEL! Now. 

In a recent interview with Deadline, Gibson happily ripped ridiculously budgeted summer films like "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice". He called it a pile of garbage, essentially, and asked why films need to cost that much. "Hacksaw Ridge" was made for just $40 million, a small size compared to other large scale films. It got a standing ovation. "Batman versus Superman" made quite a few moviegoers and critics cry mercy before the 155 minute running time reached its end. 

"Ridge" represents the first Gibson directed film in 10 years, since 2006's "Apocalypto". That's also too long, but I am sure the executives were fine in letting Roman Polanski — the director who pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles — work freely over the past decade. Hollywood's double standard is incredulous. 

Here's what I suggest for Gibson. While "Hacksaw Ridge" blows away the competition and places him back at the Oscars, fire up a podcast. Sure, it may seem like a step down for an Oscar winner, but it would be a perfect way for his fans to get a true dose of Gibson. "Riggs unplugged". "Mel's hot takes!" Whatever it is, get it going. I'd listen, and I am sure many others would. If the money holders are going to shun Mel, the man needs to lean into it and have fun. He's not getting any younger and neither are we.

I am drawn to flawed people. Ones who say things they shouldn't and aren't programmed to play nice. I'll take ten Mels over the recycled boring goods that drip out of many actor's teeth. I like unfiltered white-hot takes and the ability of a celeb to unleash something. Now, Mel needs to tone it down and keep it cleaner, but he doesn't deserve to be shunned. 

Look at him with Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes earlier this year. He took the heat, laughed it up, and got some respect back. Why not more?

There's plenty of messed-up souls out West. There's tons of crazy in Hollywood. Why shun Gibson for a few rants? We all rant. Most of them happen in private. Mel needs to be better there. 

I'll wait around for another headlined Gibson film. Until then, I'll look for his takes on timely matters like big budget films, overseas issues, and the depravity of man. I kid. I want more Mel and I'll take it anyway I can get it. You should to. He's a versatile actor and great director. Let him back in.

"Hacksaw Ridge", aka "We Are Soldiers" but better, opens on Nov. 4. Be prepared to be blown away.


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