Genre: Crime Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.
Release Date: March 9th, 2018 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Nash Edgerton Actors: Joel Edgerton, Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo, Sharlto Copley, Thandie Newton, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, Yul Vazquez, Melonie Diaz, Alan Ruck
romethium Pharmaceuticals’ operations supervisor Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) can’t seem to catch a break. His wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) is emotionally distant and sinking them both into insolvency, while his longtime friend and boss Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton) has been obscuring the reality about his job security at the company. When Harold notices sizable discrepancies in the inventory reports, Richard and his conniving co-president Elaine Markinson (Charlize Theron) commandeer his duties through a trip to Mexico to personally confront the production facility’s administrator (Hernan Mendoza). Once there, Harold discovers the truth about his backstabbing colleagues and concocts a plan to get even. But the mild-mannered middle-manager’s scheme quickly backfires, leaving him stranded in Mexico with gangsters, drug lords, and a fickle former mercenary (Sharlto Copley) – each with no qualms about killing – ruthlessly hunting him down.
As with too many films to count, “Gringo” begins in the midst of a panic, with a situation spiraling out of control, barely able to push enough details onto the audience for them to comprehend the chaos. Then, it cuts to two days earlier, when everything was so much calmer. Despite utilizing such a tired, generally unnecessary formula, “Gringo” manages to make this cold open marginally different, thanks to some keen misdirection. Nevertheless, it’s a narrative decision that surely could have been handled with greater finesse; it’s pandering to short attention spans, which tends to insult sharper viewers – those familiar with commonplace movie tropes.
“Guilt is for losers.” The eclectic mix of characters fares better, especially as they’re molded with darkly comedic introductions and plenty of cynical traits. In the world of “Gringo,” there are only those who take advantage and those who get taken advantage of. Two roles are mostly innocent, though even Harold suffers from the disappointing qualities of unassertiveness and desperation. The others are cruel, uppity, or just plain unpleasant. Fortunately, the film has the sense to expound these personas with humor, so that they’re not merely despicable people doing despicable things. Instead, it’s routinely funny to witness the greed, the belittling, and the corrupt corporate maneuvering. And Harold isn’t always as ineffectual as he seems – a welcome change from his primary routine, which is to haphazardly navigate hostile places and situations (remaining perpetually in-over-his-head), only to accidentally come out intact.
“I don’t think it pays to be a good person.” The film spells out the point of the interactions rather bluntly at times, but the script features plenty of background quirks, recurring anecdotes, and a sense of optimism besting pessimism. Extreme coincidences and moments of carelessness thwart the successes of the laughs, particularly when revolting violence edges into the frame, as if expecting that viewers will somehow find levity in the verbal jokes that immediately follow uncomfortable bloodshed. But the underdog sensibilities and Copley’s wholesome yet formidable turn (which should have been far wackier) brighten the frequent depletions of mirth. “Gringo” opts for satisfaction more often than its contemporary buddy-cop and action-comedy counterparts, which further aids the outcome. It has the gumption to choose contentment rather than realism, alleviating many of the problems with its storytelling, its extraneous characters, and its misplaced severity.
– The Massie Twins