But all those credentials get muffled and mangled by the entanglements of a convoluted plot, so overloaded with surprises and mishaps and misunderstandings that it ultimately ends up going nowhere. All the twists also manage to strangle the film’s comedy as the writers have to spend time untying all the knots.
The premise is pretty nutty in itself. Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is an employee of Cannabax Technologies whose bosses (a true-to-form Charlize Theron and a passable Joel Edgerton) are promoting their new ‘Weed Pill’, a just-about-legal type of medical marijuana.
When Soyinka discovers that the pair’s dealings across the border in Mexico haven’t exactly been over-the-counter, he decides to play his bosses at their own game. However, he ends up in a variety of comprising positions with Mexican drug lords, hitmen and the DEA. Oh, and there’s some marital drama with Soyinka’s wife (Thandie Newton).
Sadly, a lot of the story relies Soyinka’s status as a naive outsider (underlined by his Nigerian accent) who fails to sense danger even when it holds a gun to his head—a character only really sustained by David Oyelowo’s fine acting. Much of the movie’s comedy also relies on humour as blunt and unsubtle as its title: racial insensitivities (or just racism), sexist banter, mistranslations and the like. It’s acceptable in small doses but less good if it’s basically the only thing on offer.
There is the an attempt at some slightly more sophisticated corporate satire, much helped by the presence of Theron that eventually just boils down to pointing and laughing at sex-starved and oversexed men in suits. The reinforcement of tired Mexican stereotypes is perhaps harder to justify as an attempt at elevation.
The movie market is flooded with so many films like Gringo that it’s tempting for producers to play by numbers in order to racket up ticket sales—how many ‘names’ can we squeeze on the poster; how many one-liners in the script; how many twists; how many corpses can we pile up.
But, unfortunately, a dish that uses up all the spices in the pantry is rarely a recipe for success. We’d have happily exchanged a couple of famous faces and a few of the twists for some bolder characters and a little more laughter.
|What||Gringo film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
09 Mar 18 – 09 Mar 19, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|