Forget any off-screen impressions you may have of Mel Gibson, and experience Apocalypto
as the mad, bloody runaway train that it is. The story is set in the pre-Columbian Maya population: one village is brutally overrun, its residents either slaughtered or abducted, by a ruling tribe that needs slaves and human sacrifices. We focus on the capable warrior Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), although Gibson skillfully sketches a whole population of characters--many of whom don't survive the early reels. Most of the film is set in the dense jungle, but the middle section, in a grand Mayan city, is a dazzling triumph of design, costuming, and sheer decadent terror. The movie itself is a triumph of brutality, as Gibson lets loose his well-established fascination with bodily mortification in a litany of assaults including impalement, evisceration, snakebite, and bee stings. It's a dark, disgusted vision, but Gibson doesn't forget to apply some very canny moviemaking instincts to the violence--including the creation of a tremendous pair of villains (strikingly played by Raoul Trujillo and Rodolfo Palacias). The film is in a Maya dialect, subtitled in English, and shot on digital video (which occasionally betrays itself in some blurry quick pans). Amidst all the mayhem, nothing in the film is more devastating than a final wordless exchange of looks between captured villager Blunted (Jonathan Brewer) and his wife's mother (Maria Isabel Diaz), a superb change in tone from their early relationship. Yes, this is an obsessive, crazed movie, but Gibson knows what he's doing. --Robert Horton
Beyond Apocalypto Stills from Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (click for larger image)
From Mel Gibson, director of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and the Academy Award(R)-winning BRAVEHEART (Best Director, Best Picture, 1995) comes the thrilling historical epic APOCALYPTO. This intense, nonstop action-adventure transports you to an ancient South American civilization, for an experience unlike anything you've ever known. In the twilight of the mysterious Mayan culture, young Jaguar Paw is captured and taken to the great Mayan city where he faces a harrowing end. Driven by the power of his love for his wife and son, he makes an adrenaline-soaked, heart-racing escape to rescue them and ultimately save his way of life. Filled with unrelenting action and stunning cinematography, APOCALYPTO is an enthralling and unforgettable film experience.