Mel Gibson: A filmography
Although best known for his Mad Max and Lethal Weapon movies, Gibson has delivered a number of other notable performances during the last decade. (All titles, except Bird on a Wire, are available on video.)
Mad Max (1979)
After his wife and child are mowed down by a pack of scuzzball bikers, Mel — as black-leather-clad cop Max Rockatansky — lives up to his title in George Miller’s bleak futuristic road picture from Down Under. A-
Aural warning: Apparently Mel’s Australian accent was deemed too dense for American ears, so his lines were dubbed for the U.S. theatrical and video releases, giving the movie a disconcerting Japanese-monster-flick feel.
This sappy soaper about a spinster (Piper Laurie) who falls in love with a mildly retarded young laborer (Gibson) is drenched in an overwrought strings- and-piano score that, like a geyser, erupts every 15 minutes. B-
Early beefcake: Shirtless most of the time, Mel also wears the tightest of short shorts, tank tops, and Speedos.
Attack Force Z (1980)
Gibson plays the inexperienced leader of an Australian WW II commando mission to rescue plane-crash survivors from a Japanese-occupied island. C
Sure sign of impending stardom: Mel’s the only lead character not shot to death.
During World War I, a gifted, idealistic Australian runner (Mark Lee) convinces his friend and competitor (Gibson) to join up and fight for England. They land in the middle of a disastrous, blunder-filled battle against the Turks. A
Beefcake-o-rama: Even in this serious movie, the two pals shed their uniforms and dash waterward for a splashingly scenic skinny-dip.
Road Warrior (1981)
Roaming the gasoline-starved wasteland in his souped-up sedan, studly Mel returns as Max in this ode to automotive mayhem and destruction. A
Post-nuke costume question: Where did the crossbow-wielding amazon get those NFL regulation shoulder pads?
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
In this Peter Weir film, Mel is Guy Hamilton, an Australian journalist who arrives in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1965 to cover the rumored overthrow of President Sukarno. He becomes professionally involved with Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt), a newsreel cameraman, and romantically involved with Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver), an assistant at the Briiish embassy. Mel delivers perhaps his finest performance. A
It’s better in the tropics: Caught in a violent downpour, Mel and Sigourney take refuge in a car and steam literally rises. Later, at an embassy dinner, a passionate kiss leaves them panting so desperately that they bolt and ram through a roadblock to reach a bungalow hideaway for some serious whoopee.
The Bounty (1984)
This third film version of the true-life tale of mutiny on the high seas foundered at the box office. Before Mel goes nativee he looks a uncomfortable as the ship’s mate, Mr. Christian. B-
Pinup-poster Mel: Shirtless in Tahiti, he hammers a spike into the ground under the awed gaze of three giggling local women.
The River (1984)
As embattled Tennessee farmer Tom Garvey, Mel dumps his trademark Aussie accent for an authentic-sounding Southern twang. Unfortunately, his convincing down-home-family-man performance isn’t enough to salvage this sentimental washout. C
Farm frolic: What do farm couple Gibson and Sissy Spacek do eith the kids when they want to partake in afternoon smooching? Tell ’em to go feed the chickens.
Mrs. Soffel (1984)
The makers of this based-on-a-true-story period piece must have figured that the sight of Mel behind bars as the dubiously convicted murderer Ed Biddle would be enough to melt any female moviegoer’s heart. Wrong. Diane Keaton plays the warden’s puritanical wife who helps him make a not-so-daring escape. C
Useless weapon: Gibson’s obligatory love scene with Keaton is about as exciting as one of Laura Ingall’s adolescent flings on Little House on the Prairie.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
The trilogy’s silliest entry by far. A surly, semi-dreadlocked Mel vanquishes the corrupt leader of Bartertown (Tina Turner) and leads a band of nomad children to freedom. B-
Tina’s turn: The scantily clad Turner looks Gibson up and down and sneers, ”How the world turns: One day cock of the walk, next a feather duster.”
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Paired with Cosby-esque cop Danny Glover, Mel plays burned-out, pseudo-suicidal LAPD detective Martin Riggs. Here, the salt-and-pepper buddy-cop team get to dismantle a drug-smuggling operation. A
Lethal cutup: During a drug bust at a Christmas tree lot, Mel does a terrific psycho-Three Stooges imitation before blasting a couple of punks.
Beefcake special: Mel wakes up in his grungy trailer and crawls out of bed while the camera lingers on his backside.
Tequila Sunrise (1988)
As Dale McKussic, Mel is definitely the most wholesome, best-looking drug dealer ever. Chinatown scripter Robert Towne’s all-too-confusing love triangle-action romance finds our former cocaine-smuggling, California-cuisine-eating hero bedeviled by his love for Michelle Pfeiffer because he’s afraid she won’t like him when she finds out wwat he used to do for a living. B
Most Mel-lifluous moment: Gibson and Pfeiffer turn up the heat during a slo-mo hot tub scene while a federal surveillance team turns on the videotape.
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
Mel shaves more and drinks less in the even more popular sequel. This time the villains aren’t just drug smugglers, they’re racist South African drug smugglers. Luckily, Detective Riggs’ tactics haven’t softened as much as his look. At his angriest moment, he yanks a Bauhaus mansion off its cliffside pilings with a four-wheel-drive pickup. A
Mel as magician: Riggs’ Houdini-esque ability to dislocate his shoulder at will gets him out of more than one tight situation.
Bird on a Wire (1990)
Gibson plays radical fugitive Rick Jarmin, who meets up with ex-girlfriend Goldie Hawn, now a corporate lawyer, after 15 years. They squabble and they kiss as bad government agents chase them across the country. C
Butt seriously: When Mel gets hit with a load of buckshot in his rump, the camera lingers (again) over the wounded backside.