Arts movie review

A movie with distasteful humor, violence and not many redeeming qualities

What happens when an American pharmaceutical company gets involved with a Mexican drug cartel?

Directed by Nash Edgerton
Screenplay written by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone
Starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried
Rated R, Now Playing

What happens when an American pharmaceutical company gets involved with a Mexican drug cartel? This is the question on which Gringo bases its plot. Good hearted, but short on cash, business man Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is brought on a business trip to Mexico with his corrupt and duplicitous bosses (Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton). While there, he discovers that his wife is cheating on him and has drained him of his money, and he is about to be laid off as the result of an upcoming company merger. Feeling he has lost everything, he stages his own kidnapping and attempts to get a last chance ransom out of the company.

While the setup seemed to lay out everything needed for a great action comedy, what followed was an amalgamation of unbelievable coincidences, chance meetups, and distastefully violent scenes in which major characters were killed seemingly at whim and without furthering any plot. By the end of the movie, you didn’t really know what was going on, and the marijuana pill subplot had been rendered completely unnecessary to what had become an oddly violent moralistic tale about the importance of good values.

Gringo also failed to take advantage of its all-star cast. While Charlize Theron, for example, portrayed the seductive and malicious business partner and lover of the ruthless pharmaceutical CEO, the character was so one-sidedly villainous that even she was unable to bring the character any real empathy or intrigue. Every character in the film was similarly flat. Oyelowo’s character, Harold, fell on the opposite side of the spectrum, a do-gooder who felt unrelatable and inactive, even during the high speed chase scene; and Amanda Seyfried basically played the role of a saint: a perfectly sweet young girl, who was not only unrelatable but also entirely out of place in the film.

In short, Gringo, like its one-sided characters, fell flat. Sure, there were some high-action scenes, and distasteful but somewhat funny jokes thrown in here and there, but it failed to captivate. Even with nothing else to recommend them, some films manage to captivate with violence and action alone. Unfortunately for Gringo, despite it’s numerous high action scenes and the inclusion of some distasteful but somewhat funny jokes, this was not the case.