Mel Gibson invades Central America in ‘Panama,’ an ’80s throwback


In “Panama”, Mel Gibson plays Stark, a CIA agent who recruits James Becker, a Navy veteran played by Cole Hauser, to undertake a top-secret weapons mission in Panama in 1989, just before the American invasion. and the overthrow of General Manuel Noriega.

If you’re too young to remember that brief war, let’s explain. Noriega was a longtime US ally in Central America due to his opposition to communist governments in the region, but his star began to fall in intelligence circles after the CIA realized he was trading secrets with our enemies.

There was also drug trafficking and money laundering. After a rigged election in 1989, the United States decided that Noriega should go. American forces invaded Panama and blasted the loud metal music of Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses to wear down the dictator’s resistance.

“Panama” covers the days leading up to this invasion. The film will be released in theaters and on VOD on March 18, 2022. Check out the trailer below.

“Let me tell you. There’s nothing more rock and roll than eliminating bad guys for red, white, and blue,” Stark announces at the start of the trailer. It’s exactly the kind of hopelessly square bravado you’d expect from a CIA operative during the Reagan years, but Gibson redeems the character over the next two minutes with exceptionally crafty action movie zingers.

Following his Oscar nomination for directing the World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge,” Gibson began to get his acting career back on track. He recently starred as a badass Santa Claus in the Christmas action movie “Fatman” and will play a starring role in the upcoming John Wick spinoff TV series, “The Continental,” which will air on the STARZ streaming service.

Hauser plays Rip Wheeler on the hit cable “Yellowstone” and has previously appeared in the films “Olympus Has Fallen,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Hart’s War,” and “2 Fast 2 Furious.” “Panama” also stars Charlie Weber, best known for the television series “How to Get Away with Murder.”

The film was directed by Mark Neveldine, the incredibly creative force who co-directed Jason Statham classics “Crank” and “Crank: High Voltage” with former costar Brian Taylor. The team parted ways after Nicolas Cage’s Marvel movie ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’, and aside from 2015’s little-seen horror flick ‘The Vatican Tapes’, ‘Panama’ will be the first film of Neveldine in a decade.

Considering ‘John Wick’ and other classic action movies like ‘Nobody’ and ‘Atomic Blonde’ owe so much to the inspiration of ‘Crank’, it’s odd that it took us so long to see another Neveldine film. His former partner, Taylor, then created the television series “Happy!” with Patton Oswalt and the Peacock “Brave New World” series, based on the classic novel by Aldous Huxley. Hopefully “Panama” is good enough to be the movie that gets Neveldine back to work.

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