Mel Gibson’s next display violent gore takes us to the jungles of Mexico for an exciting chase movie about why the savage Mayan people deserved to be conquered and wiped out.
Apocalypto follows Jaguar Paw (aka Country Mouse), a member of one Mayan tribe, whose small ideal village is conquered by a more aggressive tribe (aka City Mouse). Many of the clan members are killed, most are taken hostage, and the children are left behind.
After an arduous trek, Jaguar Paw and the other hostages arrive in the big city with its noise and traffic, over-population, disease, squalor, and, of course, pyramids. The women are sold off as slaves and the men are taken atop the pyramid to be sacrificed. Lots of heads roll and a few beating hearts later, Jaguar Paw is up, but lucky for him, day suddenly becomes like night. It must have been those other Mayan people that were great mathematicians and astronomers because these guys didn’t have a clue that an eclipse was going on. When the sun reappears, the priest announces the gods’ blood thirst has been filled and the today’s show is over.
But not so fast, hunky Jaguar Paw. He’s got to break free to get away from the growling city folk and he does, but not without killing one of his captors and sparking the rest of them on his trail for revenge. The rest of the movie is a non-stop brutal ride through the jungle as the wounded Jaguar Paw tries to get away and get back to his village where he left his pregnant wife and young son hiding in a cave.
Apocalypto is a feast for the eyes and it’s definitely exciting. Despite that it’s entirely subtitled and bloody, it drew cheers from the crowd at my viewing. The average movie goer will not know, or care, that the myths in this film have been used against Mayan people since colonisation.
We’re quick to forgive historical inaccuracies because we generally go to the movies to be entertained. Gibson isn’t just out to entertain us. The Passion of the Christ made it clear that he has something to say about religion. Apocalypto has something to say too. It’s not exactly an accident that the film’s title is a Greek verb which means “I reveal.” What I find most disappointing about Apocalypto is that so many native people would lend themselves to make a film that has nothing positive to say about Mayans and indigenous people in general.
Apocalypto is rated R for nudity and violence.