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Directed by: Nash Edgerton
Starring: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Thandie Newton
Rated: R for Language Througout, Violence and Sexual Content
Running Time: 1 h 51 m
TMM Score: 1.5 stars out of 5
STRENGTHS: Big Name Cast
WEAKNESSES: Everything Else
Harold, a law-abiding citizen with sleazy business partners, is pulled into dealings with the Mexican cartel when his partners decide they no longer want to work with them.
Two of the worst things a movie can be are boring and forgettable, and Gringo is both of those things. Boasting a huge cast with A-list stars (and even some B-list), directed by Nash Edgerton, and written by Anthony Tamakis (the writer of “Warrior” (2011)), this film should’ve been good. But somehow, even with everything going for it, this movie fell so flat. It had too many subplots, no likeable characters, and no real message behind the chaos.
(SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW)
Harold (David Oyelowo, “The Cloverfield Paradox”) is a good man, and he believes everyone else is a good person too; he believes this so much, that people are constantly taking advantage of him. He works with a company that is trying to get in on the ground floor of the legal marijuana business; they hope to synthesize a pill. With pot becoming legal in more and more states, they figure its only a matter of time before it’s legalized federally, and the ones that will make the big bucks are the ones that are there first. His business partners, Richard (Joel Edgerton, “Red Sparrow”) and Elaine (Charlize Theron, “Tully”), in order to keep their business afloat, sell some of the marijuana to the drug cartels (Harold is kept in the dark about this), but now they want to go straight, and so they inform their grower to stop selling to the cartels. The cartels are angered by the sudden stop in product, and due to a miscommunication, they believe Harold is the man in charge, so they go after him. But wait! There are subplots galore; subplots that I wont really get into too much because they had no purpose being in the film. But some of these subplots include: Harold’s cheating wife (played by Thandie Newton, “Mission: Impossible II”, Richard’s mercenary brother (Sharlto Copely, “District 9”) whom is currently having a crisis of faith, and Amanda Seyfried (“First Reformed”) and her shady boyfriend enjoying vacation in Mexico while sometimes running into Harold.
The whole of this movie is feckless, sloppy and unintelligible. It was advertised as a comedy, but there were very few comedic moments. I think I laughed once, and there may have been two or three weak chortles from the audience surrounding me, but for the most part, there were only crickets. In fact, tone was probably what this movie struggled with the most; it never found what it was trying to be. There are times when the movie is action heavy and a little intense, but they try to add humor into these scenes and it just doesn’t work. Other scenes, characters have brief philosophical discussions, only to completely negate anything they were talking about with a stupid joke at the end. The writing is uneven and frankly rather insulting to the intelligence of the viewer.
As I mentioned above, none of the characters are even remotely likeable. Harold, though he starts out the film as a good-natured man, is an idiot. How am I supposed to like a man that can’t figure out that everyone around him is blatantly lying? I also have a hard time believing that Harold couldn’t have figured out that his partners were selling pot to the cartels. But beyond Harold, there’s Richard and Elaine; true, we aren’t supposed to really like them, but we spend a lot of time developing their backstories and subplots. Richard likes to sleep around, and we get that he doesn’t really have respect for anyone but himself. Elaine also likes to sleep around, but she’s also crazy about Richard; she becomes more or less a psycho-ex-girlfriend caricature as the film goes on- during one of the worst scenes, Charlize gives herself a lengthy and cringe-worthy pep talk in a mirror. Amanda Seyfried’s character, whom really has no sway over the plot whatsoever, is another idiot who seems to just get pulled into crime because she refuses to open her eyes to her boyfriend's drug dealing habits. Even Sharlto Copely, who was the most likeable character, became more of an alpha-male-American-man caricature than anything else, and though he provides more humor than most of the other characters, but he lacks any sort of conviction, and ultimately ends up being just as flat as any of the other characters.
The subplots, as I mentioned above, have no real sway over the story. Who cares if Harold’s wife is cheating on him if we’ve never established her character as a good person? Also why do we care if his wife used to be fat? Why do we follow Amanda Seyfried around for twenty minutes of the film, when she does absolutely nothing to move the story forward? These are the questions that kept popping into my head as I sat in the darkened theatre, sporadically checking my watch, waiting for the movie to end so I could leave. The subplots make the story needlessly convoluted, and ultimately do nothing to help the pace of the film. Instead of caring about the characters, I kept wondering if any of them would die so we wouldn’t have to come back to their plots.
This movie was utterly forgettable. I’d say wait until it comes out on Netflix or Redbox to watch it, but don’t even do that. If you’re a self-respecting cinephile, or even just an average moviegoer, know that you don’t need to wade through this slough. There are plenty of other movies out there that deserve attention, but drivel like this, a movie that panders to the lowest common denominator and insults the intelligence of the viewer, doesn’t deserve your attention.
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