Mel Gibson’s drunken escapades are well known, but for all his questionable ethics the man still knows how to direct an action film.
Apocalypto is no Citizen Kane or There Will Be Blood, but it doesn’t pretend to be: instead, it gets its point over in a succinct, adrenaline-fuelled style that’s hard to ignore.
Language no barrier
That Gibson manages to both capture and maintain your empathy despite his brave decision to shoot the entire film in native Mayan (with subtitles, of course) says a lot about his directorial ability and the strength of his casting.
Rudy Youngblood’s Jaguar Paw makes a fine, believable hero - his determination ensuring your enthusiastic support for his cause long before his final, climactic confrontation with his nemesis, the elaborately pierced Zero Wolf.
No holding back here
And then there’s the violence. You could argue that it’s all entirely appropriate, that 16th-century Mayan civilization was a brutal culture, and you’d have a point.
But that still doesn’t prepare you for the sight of a man eating a pig’s bollocks (so fresh they’re still throbbing, might we add), or for scenes of hand-to-hand combat that are so realistic you might be moved to grab a sponge to remove the blood from your carpet.
Of course, Blu-ray’s quality only improves the realism further. It’s a tremendous disc, with audio transferred directly in studio-quality 24-bit/48kHz PCM (one of the very few releases in this form) plus sensational video. All the better to revel in those vivid scarlet blood-spatters, eh.