Gringo (Subtitled) (15)

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Action (2018)
110mins Australia/US

Starring: Charlize Theron, Sharlto Copley, David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton
Director: Nash Edgerton
Writer(s): Matthew Stone, Anthony Tambakis
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Elaine Markinson and her business partner Richard Rusk prepare to launch their product Cannabax: medical marijuana in the form of a small pill. They go into full production in Mexico and dispatch mild-mannered employee Harold Soyinka to hand-deliver the weed pill formula to scientists in the laboratory. Harold drinks with locals in a bar close to his hotel. Unfortunately, goons working for a sadistic drugs cartel kingpin abduct Harold and hold him hostage for five million US dollars.

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LondonNet Film Review
Gringo (15)

An honourable man abandons his moral compass to turn the tables on his corrupt employers, and unwittingly spins himself into a quagmire of deceit and betrayal, in Nash Edgerton's frenetic comedy thriller. Co-written by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone, Gringo employs a fractured chronology to chart a bungled kidnapping in Mexico that might have been masterminded by the tearful victim. Appearances are deceptive throughout Edgerton's breathless caper, and as voyeurs, our limited enjoyment comes from attempting to second guess how abrasive characters will double-cross one another in the name of greed and ambition...

Gringo. Copyright: Amazon Studios/STX Entertainment. Caption: David Oyelowo as Harold Soyinka, Charlize Theron as Elaine Markinson and Joel Edgerton as Richard Rusk in Gringo, directed by Nash Edgerton. All Rights Reserved.Some of these hairpin twists are predictable so director Edgerton distracts us from the script's manifold shortcomings with breathless action sequences and self-consciously offbeat comic interludes. Oxford-born actor David Oyelowo is instantly likeable as the kind-hearted middle manager at the epicentre of the convoluted chaos. He's the calm in a storm of exaggerated supporting performances including Charlize Theron as a vampy executive, who happily loses her underwear if it will allow her to clamber up one greasy rung on the career ladder, and Carlos Corona as a drugs kingpin, who obsesses about The Beatles as he severs the big toe of an underperforming henchman.

Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton) and Elaine Markinson (Theron) preside over Chicago-based Promethium Pharmaceuticals, which is poised to initiate full production of Cannabax - medical marijuana in a pill. The executives travel to Mexico with mild-mannered Operations Supervisor Harold Soyinka (Oyelowo), whose wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) has just announced that she is leaving him. While Harold goes into emotional meltdown, Richard and Elaine speak confidentially to factory foreman Celerino Sanchez (Hernan Mendoza), informing their man to stop supplying cartel head Juan Miguel Villegas (Corona) aka The Black Panther with raw product from the Promethium inventory.

The executives are in secret takeover talks with Powell Pharmaceuticals and must avoid stock discrepancies, which could scupper the deal. In retaliation, Villegas orders his goons to abduct Harold, whose fingerprint signature unlocks the safe containing the Cannabax formula. "I know a guy who might be good for this: Special Ops, extraction..." Richard informs Elaine. He contacts his brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley), a mercenary-for-hire, who promises to smuggle Harold across the Mexico-US border in exchange for medical supplies to benefit the stricken people of Haiti. The rescue mission hits myriad snags and fugitives Mitch and Harold rely on the kindness of strangers including American tourist Sunny (Amanda Seyfried) and her British drug-mule boyfriend (Harry Treadaway).

Gringo is an exercise in hyperkinetic style over coherent substance. Dramatic intersections often seem contrived and many of the characters are sketched so casually, they are surplus to requirements. Oyelowo's sympathetic and sporadically heartfelt portrayal is the glue that prevents the picture from falling apart.

- Jo Planter

Gringo. Copyright: Amazon Studios/STX Entertainment. Caption: David Oyelowo as Harold Soyinka, Charlize Theron as Elaine Markinson and Joel Edgerton as Richard Rusk in Gringo, directed by Nash Edgerton. All Rights Reserved.

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