Gringo

Review by Naomi Wong

Directed by

Nash Edgerton

Starring

Charlize Theron David Oyelowo Joel Edgerton

Anticipation.

Another film about Americans and drug cartels in Mexico?

Enjoyment.

A few laughs here and there but largely falls flat.

In Retrospect.

Fun in places but doesn’t linger.

Nash “Brother of Joel” Edgerton directs this entertaining but lazily scripted Mexican crime caper.

Former stuntman turned director Nash Edgerton’s Mexican-set comedy is packed with impressive action, witty one liners and cheap stereotypes. Nice guy Nigerian-American businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) winds up in trouble south of the border after being backstabbed by ruthless pharmaceutical heads Elaine Markinson (Charlize Theron) and Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton).

Amid the chaos and awkward mishaps our unfortunate hero encounters ex-mercenary Mitch (Sharlto Copley) as well as two rather clueless twentysomething tourists (Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway). Unfortunately, the vibrant country of Mexico serves only as an exotic backdrop for this cliched crime caper.

This is a somewhat surprising star vehicle considering the lack of character development. The portrayal of women is particularly problematic thanks to a one-dimensional and lazily misogynistic plot. Thandie Newton, playing Harold’s wife, Bonnie, is thrown in in an attempt to further a tedious subplot and to make Harold’s life hell.

Elsewhere Theron’s Elaine is a humourless ‘cold bitch’ archetype who uses her sexuality to her advantage, while Seyfried remains sweet and innocent throughout, oblivious to her boyfriend’s ulterior motive. Though the film falls flat in places, watching Edgerton and Theron’s morally bankrupt corporate baddies suffer does give it a slight lift.

It is worth noting Oyelowo’s performance as he just about holds the film together as the likeable but down-on-his-luck uncle with a good heart. Harold’s visible anger and dismay during a heated debate over whether to raid a hotel mini bar is a highlight. As the film draws to a close, every loose end is neatly tied up – comeuppance looms over those who deserve it, yet still we scarcely root for Harold to live the life he always knew was a lie.

Published 10 Mar 2018

Tags: Amanda Seyfried Charlize Theron David Oyelowo Joel Edgerton

Anticipation.

Another film about Americans and drug cartels in Mexico?

Enjoyment.

A few laughs here and there but largely falls flat.

In Retrospect.

Fun in places but doesn’t linger.

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