Dan's Review: "Gringo" stumbles over weak story
Mar 09, 2018 01:01PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf
David Oyelowo in Gringo - © 2018 Amazon studios.
Gringo (STX Films/Amazon Studios)
Rated R for language throughout, violence and sexual content.
Starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton, Sharlto Copley, Paris Jackson, Yul Vazquez, Alan Ruck, Harry Treadaway, Kenneth Choi, Melonie Diaz, Diego Cataño, Hector Kotsifakis, Bashir Salahuddin.
Written by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone.
Directed by Nash Edgerton.
The crime comedy seems to be back on the menu for movie fare these days, with films like The Good Guys, Logan Lucky and Baby Driver all making waves. The latest attempt for making crime pa with laughter is Gringo, starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton.
It’s the story of Harold, a mid-level manager at a Chicago pharmaceutical company owned by Richard (Edgerton) and Elaine (Theron). Harold’s marriage is on the rocks, as his wife (Thandie Newton) is sucking their finances dry while having an affair with Richard (who is supposedly his best friend). The bosses are working on a new marijuana pill in hopes that the drug will be legalized all over the country and have set up an illegal lab in Mexico to get ahead of the game. They also plan to sell the company and leave Harold unemployed. When Harold travels to Mexico City with Richard and Elaine (who are also having an affair), he discovers that he is about to lose his job and his wife to Richard, who is a really, really bad person and not the friend he thought he was. Meanwhile, the lab managers have been dealing with the “Black Panther” (Carlos Corona), a vicious drug cartel leader. At the same time, a rival company has hired a mule named Miles (Harry Treadaway) to infiltrate the lab and sneak the drug out. Miles brings his girlfriend Sunny (Amanda Seyfried) along for the ride, unaware of the drug caper going on. When the Black Panther discovers that Harold has the only access to the lab’s vault, he tries to kidnap him. Distraught over his future, Harold goes on a drunken bender and tries to swindle Richard for a fake ransom. Richard hires his brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley) to rescue Harold, but later discovers he would get more insurance if his pal were dead. All this confusion leads Harold down a path that culminates in a confrontation with the drug cartel, the DEA, Mitch and other surprise players, as Elaine also looks for better options.
Gringo has its charms. David Oyelowo does an adequate job of portraying the unlucky and oblivious everyman; a perfect setup for a little payback. Other actors offer tolerable performances as interesting and funny character sketches, but the story structure and dialogue are conspicuously incoherent in this mess of caper film. The payoff is equally unfulfilling in the film’s final act, as some people get their comeuppance, and others don’t.
Gringo could have used a rewrite or a little more imagination. It feels like an uncolored coloring book. There’s potential, but no substance.