Gringo is worth seeing if only for David Oyelowo and Charlize Theron
Good guy Harold Soyinka is given a rude awakening when he realises that playing by the rules isn’t always the way to win.We’ve all seen that movie where we can’t help but root for the underdog, the guy - or gal - who is constantly being put down and left to fend for him or herself. The one who tries to do good and play by the rules but continually and repeatedly hits a brick wall while everyone else comes up trumps. Well, that’s pretty much the premise for Gringo with a whole heap of other stuff thrown in. Nigerian born Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) lives in Chicago working for a pharmaceutical company, a job given to him his good buddy Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton).
Richard, who was also kind enough to hire Harold’s wife, Bonnie (Thandie Newton), as his personal interior designer, runs the company with his sexy, vampish partner Elaine (Charlize Theron). As things go from bad to worse for Harold he soon realises that if he wants to live the high life, with the fancy cars and big boats, he’s going to have to take matters into his own hands. But things don’t exactly go to plan for our good natured, loveable underdog. Being the honest and reliable guy, Harold never asked any questions and had always gotten the job done.
He happily flies back and forth between the US and Mexico where the company’s drug lab is located. That is until good old Harold does a little detective work and starts to realise that his job is a small but very significant part in a much bigger picture; one that involves a Mexican drug lord called the Black Panther (no relation to the Wakanda Black Panther), the formula for a new marijuana pill, a former mercenary turned aid worker and a kidnap with the hefty ransom of $5 million dollars.
One of the problems with Gringo is that if you were unfortunate enough to see the trailers for the film you probably saw all the funny bits too. And when I say ‘funny bits’ I am referring to maybe two, three at the most, moments within the entirety of the film. The main issue with the film is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It mixes action and drama while trying to be intermittently funny, which feels out of place and out of time with the film as a whole.
It doesn’t help that the story endlessly unfolds taking twists and turns at every opportunity chucking absolutely anything and everything at the audience. It has the makings of a good film, the story is actually quite a good one when you think about it but the film fails to pull it off resulting in a movie that drags and feels like it’s never going to end. Directer Nash Edgerton (Joel's brother) clearly had fun making the movie but it comes across as though he was thinking it up as he went along, not sticking to the screenplay written by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone.
A mishmash of genres and an endlessly revolving plot
Because there is endless amounts of story and various interweaving plot lines, the characters never fully get the development they deserve. The performances are fairly good for the most part; Oyelowo is believable as the hard done by nice guy putting on a good Nigerian accent; Edgerton’s Richard is fairly nondescript while Theron looks as though she thoroughly relished every moment of being inappropriate and offensive - her performance, despite being in a supportive capacity, definitely stands out. Other cast members were extremely underused such as Newton’s Bonnie who’s practically only there to be the eventual punch line and Amanda Seyfried’s Sonny who’s seemed to be inserted into the plot at the last minute.
Gringo looked like it had the potential to be a laugh-out-loud comedy with all the components to make an exciting narrative. But it ended up being a bit convoluted, not very funny and it felt like a very long slog to get to the end. If you haven’t seen the trailers you might be able to enjoy the few laughs but otherwise I’d wait and watch it at home.
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