Gringo has had a bad time at the box office and despite a cast that includes Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo and Joel Edgerton it has been given short shrift by critics and online sites alike. However, despite the negative attention, I must admit there is a lot to enjoy here and this is not a bad film. Sure there are elements in the plot that we may have seen before, and there a moments that may remind you of similar fare, but on the whole the film mixes black comedy and violent thriller quite well.
The humor is understated, there are no real laugh out loud moments, but I think that makes the situation more believable. The violence happens suddenly and without warning, and this keeps the audience slightly on edge adding to the thriller side of the story, and the plot itself has enough twists and turns to keep you interested till the very last scene.
Storywise, there’s quite a lot going on. Harold Soyinka, played by Oyelowo, is a naive pawn on a corporate chess board. who is sent to Mexico to oversee the development of a new cannabis based pill for the company he works for. However, there are dangerous illegal goings on within the company that threaten to leave him jobless and at the mercy of a Mexican drug cartel. The situation starts to spin out of control as the real motivations of the main characters start to emerge, and poor Harold finds himself spinning out of control in an environment that looks set to have him for lunch.
The film is directed by Nash Edgerton, and has many stylish moments. The action sequences are suitably exciting, the violence is very real and the characters, although slightly two dimensional, are well played and easy to invest in. There are moments of Tarantino-esque drama and dialogue, never a bad thing, and badly timed drug lord The Black Panther has a funny moment debating the best Beatles album with anyone that has the misfortune to cross his path.
On the whole this is an enjoyable and very watchable film, that keeps the pace of the story up for the full 1 hour 50 minutes run time. The cast seem to be enjoying themselves and the direction and editing is on point, giving the various plot strands enough screen time for the audience to process and tie together when required. Things come to a satisfying conclusion and really what more do you want from a crime comedy caper of this type?
If you are fan of the genre, then don’t miss out on Gringo, it’s a fun and exciting piece of cinema that may not win any awards, but deserves a watch anyway. Not everything has to be Oscar worthy to be enjoyed.