GRINGO, a dark comedy mixed with white-knuckle action and dramatic intrigue, explores the battle of survival for businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) when he finds himself crossing the line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal.
Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to 'Sparrow School,' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.
An exhilarating mix of dark comedy, white-knuckle action and dramatic intrigue, Gringo joyrides into Mexico, where mild-mannered businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) finds himself at the mercy of his back-stabbing business colleagues back home, local drug lords and a morally conflicted black-ops mercenary. Crossing the line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal, Harold battles to survive his increasingly dangerous situation in ways that raise the question: Is he out of his depth - or two steps ahead? Written by
Gringo is Uneven but They Compensate with Fun Performances and a Offbeat Main Charater
Gringo has a good setup and knows how to bob and weave to keep the audience off guard. Harold is a pretty pathetic protagonist but there was never a moment that I didn't like him or want him to get through this. His friends are stereotypical jerks and his wife is bland so Harold (and Oyelowo) have to do the heavy lifting until the movie shifts. Once they get to Mexico, they bring in some new people and it really goes a long way to helping the movie bring the laughs. There are some subplots that seem like they don't matter but they do a decent job bringing it all together in the end. The funniest scenes come from some of the darker places the movie goes (Harold's behaviour during the negotiation had me giggling and when Mitch has to chase Harold has a funny payoff). I had one or two nitpicks (how did Harold learn how to use a gun?) but they largely kept things fresh and I really enjoyed where the movie ended up.
What caught me off guard about Gringo was how great David Oyelowo was playing Harold. I've only seen David in serious drama (his turn as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma was excellent) but this was a complete departure from what I expect from him. He's good at playing this well meaning yet sad sack character and he was able to make Harold sympathetic but have you laughing in almost every scene. Charlize Theron is a pro and did as much as she could with her character. Ditto for Joel Edgerton who did fine work with what he was given. The scene-stealer in the supporting cast was Sharlto Copley as Richard's brother Mitch. I'm a big fan of Copley especially in comedies and he really worked well with David in their scenes together. Amanda Seyfried was a breath of fresh air in a toned-down role as Sunny. I also liked Yul Vasquez as Harold's bodyguard Angel. Unfortunately, Thandie Newton is in a thankless role that gives her little to nothing to do.
Gringo is far from a flawless movie. Although there is the occasional funny bit in the beginning, the movie does take a while to get going. It was like waiting for a cold car to start, the movie sputtered for a while until it finally fired to life. The other problem I had was that I wanted something more from a few of the supporting characters. Harold is a character we learn about from all sides, but Elaine and Richard only get some thrown in exposition. They're such BIG jerks with filthy mouths that I would have been more willing to buy them if I knew a little more about them. The cartel members don't need to be deep but the joke with the boss is overdone. Its the same thing with Harold's wife Bonnie, the movie makes her arc obvious from the moment we meet her, and we know almost nothing about her other than she liberally wastes David's money and she used to be heavy.
This was a movie that I found a lot of easy stuff to pick at but I came away happy that I saw Gringo. Just like most comedies, the movie is hit or miss and there were times where you had to be patient to see where it was going. The theatre I saw it in was largely empty and it was too bad that more people didn't go see it. This is a dark comedy that has enough funny jokes to keep you entertained and enough surprises to justify a trip to the theatre. Its also worth seeing for Oyelowo and Copley's performances. It can get pretty dark at times and I think kids should probably avoid this. It might be gone from theatres by the time this review gets up, but I would recommend checking Gringo out on Blu-Ray or Netflix. I'd give Gringo a 7.5/10 rounding up to an 8/10.
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