Since breaking out in George Miller’s Mad Max over 40 years ago, Mel Gibson has tried his hand at almost every imaginable genre and found success in the majority of them. While his particular brand of dangerous charisma saw him find A-list status as an action hero, some of his best work has come when you put him in the middle of a battlefield, whether he’s in front of or behind the camera.
1981 war drama Gallipoli allowed him to stretch his dramatic muscles, The Bounty was a sweeping naval epic pitting him against Anthony Hopkins, Braveheart won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, We Were Soldiers delivers a gripping Vietnam story, Apocalypto was a relentless historical thriller and Hacksaw Ridge saw him land more awards season recognition thanks to a stirring biopic of famed conscientious objector Desmond Doss.
Gibson also tackled The Revolutionary War in Roland Emmerich’s The Patriot, which makes up for what it lacks in terms of historical accuracy by delivering a string of brutal set pieces that see the star’s Benjamin Martin embark on a revenge mission as he’s forced to abandon his role as a loving family man to embrace his dark past as a force to be feared and reckoned with.
It was a decent-sized hit after earning $215 million at the box office on a budget of $110 million, even if the 164-minute running time often feels a little excessive. Jason Isaacs is great value as the scenery-chewing villain as well, and it also features one of Heath Ledger’s first major roles, but Mel Gibson dominates the screen as the vengeful widower who forms his own militia. Now, The Patriot has found something of a second life on Netflix two decades on, and it’ll no doubt draw in even more viewers as we get closer to July 4th.