Gringo

 

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David Oyelowo stars in a mildly engaging sitcom with real tequila and bullets.

 

Gringo  

David Oyelowo

   

Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is a good man. Following the advice of his Nigerian father, Harold has worked hard and followed the rules – because that’s how you make it in the Land of Opportunity. So Harold has landed himself a beautiful wife (Thandie Newton), a comfortable Chicago apartment and a decent job as an operations supervisor for a major corporation, Promethium. Then, in one day, everything goes pear-shaped. But unlike Liam Neeson in The Commuter – who suffered a similar chain of indignities – Harold is ill-equipped to fight his own corner. But, on the run in Mexico, he is learning to manipulate the rules just a little in his favour…

 

Directed by Nash Edgerton (brother of the film’s co-star, Joel Edgerton), Gringo exhibits a degree of promise. However, it is too much like its protagonist to pull off its shaggy-dog conceit: it’s just too mild-mannered and laidback for its genre. Maybe a director with the style, edge and sheer cojones of Quentin Tarantino could have made something meatier of the script.

 

There is, though, plenty to like. David Oyelowo’s good-natured schlemiel is an engaging underdog, if not credible enough a figure for us to root for him. More fun is Charlize Theron’s borderline nymphomaniac, a power-tailored she-devil who talks to herself and knows that her tongue is sharper than her teeth. Ms Theron, who shares a co-producing credit, has probably never been funnier. And the locations, from snowy Chicago to a sweltering Veracruz, are deftly delineated.

 

An Australian/American/Canadian co-production, Gringo is a genuine hotchpotch, a crime soufflé that too often falls flat. Its international pedigree is intriguing, though: its director is Australian, two of its stars South African (Theron and a predictably dishevelled Sharlto Copley) and three of the main actors British (Oyelowo, Thandie Newton and Harry Treadaway). But there is one American performer that celebrity spotters may wish to catch: Paris Jackson. In her first film part, the 19-year-old daughter of Michael Jackson plays a drug contact of Treadaway’s. She’s the blonde in the guitar shop, in case you don’t notice the resemblance.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton, Sharlto Copley, Yul Vazquez, Harry Treadaway, Alan Ruck, Kenneth Choi, Carlos Corona, Hernán Mendoza, Diego Cataño, Rodrigo Corea, Melonie Diaz, Paris Jackson, Bill Maher.

 

Dir Nash Edgerton, Pro Rebecca Yeldham, Nash Edgerton, Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, A.J. Dix and Anthony Tambakis, Screenplay Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone, Ph Eduard Grau, Pro Des Patrice Vermette, Ed Luke Doolan, David Rennie and Tatiana S. Riegel, Music Christophe Beck, Costumes Donna Zakowska.

 

Amazon Studios/Denver and Delilah Productions/Blue-Tongue Films-STX International.

110 mins. USA/Australia/Canada. 2018. Rel: 9 March 2018. Cert. 15.