Starring: David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton, Charlize Theron
Director: Nash Edgerton
Running Time: 110 mins
Gringo is an American film about a well-mannered man who is sent to Mexico on company business, but as he begins to see his life falling apart around him, he falls into a chaotic game of crime and betrayal.
A dark comedy that’s full of energy and some really great performances throughout, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Gringo. But while it does more than enough to provide an enjoyable watch, it’s a very messy film, struggling with an overly convoluted story that never comes together in the satisfying and thrilling way it hopes for.
Let’s start off on the bright side, with the film’s performances. Gringo isn’t a perfect movie, but the acting is absolutely stellar across the board. David Oyelowo is brilliant fun in a role that demands a lot more slapstick and comedic energy than we’re used to seeing from him, while he also proves thoroughly endearing as a mild-mannered businessman beginning to lose his rag.
Alongside Oyelowo, the supporting cast is fantastic too, with a stand-out turn from Charlize Theron as a hard-as-knuckles businesswoman, a sleek performance from Joel Edgerton as her partner, and even a great outing for Sharlto Copley in what has to be one of his best roles to date.
The A-list cast extends even further, with Amanda Seyfried and Thandie Newton among others starring in supporting roles, although they don’t quite get the screentime to really strut their stuff.
But, as it’s packed full of talent on screen, there’s no shortage of hilarious energy in Gringo, and that’s what makes it such a fun watch. It’s an enjoyably chaotic descent into the criminal underworld, with moments of good action and violence, as well as brilliant dark comedy.
Playing on its main character’s inner frustrations, the film pokes fun at rather depressing themes of how good people are so often run roughshod over by bad people. It’s an interesting theme that forms the basis for Oyelowo’s character, and it brings about some excellent satirical energy into the mix too.
As a result, the film isn’t just a fun watch for its chaotic action and crime antics, but also for an engaging and enjoyably dark screenplay that provides some big laughs as well as a little food for thought at times.
Saying all that, however, the rest of the screenplay is a real mess. From the film’s opening stages, the story struggles with unclear and confusing exposition – attempting to quickly introduce a handful of different characters with totally unrelated story lines.
The story is set up to be a sort of Pulp Fiction/Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels-esque extravaganza of interweaving story lines, but it doesn’t really come together in such satisfying fashion.
Although it’s a form that sort of works from time to time, the story is painfully convoluted, unnecessarily bringing in more and more characters and side plots where it really doesn’t need to. The core plot surrounding Oyelowo’s character is great, but then other side plots (like Amanda Seyfried’s) feel entirely irrelevant, and never really come into play as they should.
Because of that, Gringo is never anywhere near pulling off the same mastery of interweaving stories as the films mentioned above, but it does at least still have the zany, chaotic energy of all-night crime capers like After Hours and Stretch.
So, on the whole, Gringo is a pretty fun watch. With great performances, good dark humour and bounds of energy throughout, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable crime extravaganza.
The only issue comes in the form of its screenplay, which becomes frustratingly entangled in its own messy collection of interweaving stories, making the film a whole lot more confusing than it really should have been. And that’s why I’m giving Gringo a 7.1 overall.