Brothers Joel and Nash Edgerton team up for "Gringo", a wild black comedy set in Chicago and Mexico. Working with a screenplay by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone, Nash directs and Joel stars, along with David Oyelowo and Charlize Theron.
Harold Soyinka (Oyelowo) is in deep water financially, living a cookie-cutter lifestyle in a Chicago suburb. His wife, Bonnie (Thandie Newton), started a new business and has run up a lot of debt.
Meanwhile, Harold's own work situation is threatened when he learns while on a business trip together to Mexico with his two smarmy bosses, Richard (Edgerton) and Elaine (Theron), that they plan to sell their pharmaceutical company. And when he SKYPES with Bonnie to allay his fears, she informs him she's been having an affair and is leaving him.
In an effort to "clean" up their company for the big sale, Richard and Elaine demand that their local plant manager in Mexico stop selling their bioengineered marijuana product, Cannabax, to his contact.
However, the customer is a vicious cartel kingpin known as The Black Panther, who is not too pleased at losing his source. He devises a plan to kidnap Harold, who he thinks is the "boss", so his thugs can gain access to the safe holding the formula for Cannabax.
"Gringo" keeps up a fairly good pace with an entertaining script. There are multiple twists and turns --- and a few too many kidnap subplots. But it does boast some hair-raising moments and a lot of laughs.
Oyelowo plays Harold with the right amount of naiveté and chutzpah. He's a great deal of fun to watch. Edgerton is fine --- he's much better in "Red Sparrow". It's Theron who nails the bitch in Elaine. She's a hoot, especially when she talks herself out of crying while sitting in her car in the cold.
The rest of the cast includes Sharlto Copley, who plays Mitch, Richard's wayward brother. Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway portray Sunny and Miles, two American tourists caught up in Harold's shenanigans.
"Gringo" isn't sporting much originality, but it is a diversion from the everyday craziness going on around us.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
If you're looking for a reasonably entertaining dark comedy with a solid cast and some genuine laughs, check out "Gringo". It's worth seeing if only for David Oyelowo's performance, which is as far removed from his dignified portrayal of Martin Luther King ("Selma") as an actor can get.
Oyelowo plays Harold Soyinka, a mild-mannered company executive who finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping --- or is it? --- in Mexico, and his bosses decide he's better off dead -- or do they?
"Gringo" keeps you guessing, more or less, but it's Oyelowo and Charlize Theron who bear watching.
He is achingly funny, especially when faking his own abduction by a couple of inept motel owners. When Harold decides his over-the-phone fake slaps and screams are not quite enough to convince his superiors, Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton) and Elaine Markinson (Theron), that he's in dire trouble, he burns himself with a cigarette borrowed from the "kidnappers". Then he really lets loose with a tortured howl.
Meanwhile, it is Theron, running around with her blouses always unbuttoned to reveal just enough cleavage, who is quite hysterical. She punctuates her dialogue denoting Latinos, and every other word is an F-bomb. Her character is a bit over-the-top, freely using profanity in company meetings, but what else can one expect from a movie titled "Gringo"??
This is Edgerton's second major film of early 2018 ("Red Sparrow"), and he plays the CEO of a pharmaceutical company deadpan style and tongue-in-cheek. Edgerton is becoming a legitimate sex symbol, given his sex scenes with the likes of Theron, Thandie Newton (in "Gringo") and Jennifer Lawrence ("Red Sparrow").
"Gringo" is directed by Nash Edgerton, Joel's older brother. Coincidentally, Joel's character in "Red Sparrow" was named Nate with the last name of Nash. This movie distinguishes itself from other crime thrillers because virtually every character is either shot to death or dies in a car accident by the end of the film. Don't expect too much from "Gringo", and it will be enjoyable.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!