Directed by: Nash Edgerton
Written by: Anthony Tambakis
Produced by: Rebecca Yeldham
Director of Photography: Edu Grau
Starring: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Thandie Newton, Yul Vazquez, Sharlto Copley, Amanda Seyfried.
Filmed on location in Mexico City, Veracruz, Tulum, Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Edgerton Brothers have reunited to make a film about the majesty that is people’s comeuppance.
Harold (David Oyelowo) works for his mate from university, Richard (Joel Edgerton), at a company that uses a formula to create marijuana in tablet form, Cannabax: manufactured in Mexico (while waiting on those not-quite-legal laws to turn in favour); the American firm residing in Chicago.
Harold’s a nice guy; he has that ‘underdog thing’ going for him.
His mate Richard and partner in business (and sometimes pleasure), Elaine (Charlize Theron) – not so much.
So, when Harold’s sent to Mexico, this time joined by the two dubious partners, they don’t think twice about leaving Sanchez (Hernán Mendoza) the manager of the Mexican lab, to deal with the train of destruction when they decide they don’t need to sell product to The Black Panther cartel anymore. And when Harold gets knocked off his rails in their wake, instead of paying a 5 million ransom for his release, Richard sends his mercenary-turned-humanitarian brother Mitch (Sharlto Copleyit) to extract him from a situation involving kidnapping, torture and the dreaded question of which is the Beatles best album.
Classic Edgerton, characters are thrown into life or death situations, some their own doing, others thrown under the bus because everyone’s expendable, particularly the nice one’s who, ‘never grew a pair’.
It’s hard not to have high expectations after the previous collaboration of the Edgerton Brothers to create award winning, The Square (2008).
Nash Edgerton also edited and produced a recommendation of mine, The Magician (2005) – a edgy and dark humoured mockumentary about an ex-army contract killer filmed in Melbourne, see, Nat’s ‘If you haven’t watched you’re in for a treat’ list.
Here, the usual Edgerton authenticity is given way to create a classier film, although, I wouldn’t call Charlize Theron’s character, Elaine classy with details like her red lipstick always left on the rim of a glass; her cut-throat business acumen where anything can be done to get the right decision doesn’t equal classy, but she sure is smooth.
And seeing Joel Edgerton as an equally smooth talking genuine A. hole was a point of difference to his previous roles: usually the muscle, sometimes with heart but always down-to-earth.
It’s the adorable Nigerian, Harold, lost in Mexico that keeps the movie pulling along (with some added funny moments), and it does feel like pulling to get all the characters in place, like the rock guitarist drug mule Miles (Harry Treadaway) and his aptly named girlfriend, Sunny (Amanda Seyfried); and Harold’s wife, Bonnie (Thandie Newton) chewing through money while cheating…
Gringo does get there, eventually.
To get the satisfaction of seeing the end result, time is needed to dig through the layers of character giving a different feel to the usual action thriller.
But like Harold, the story rises making Gringo a worthwhile journey.
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