Entertaining performances from likable actors can't salvage this unfunny comedy.
Gringo is the story of Harold (David Oyelowo), the nicest and unluckiest man in the world. Harold is a guy who works middle management at a pharmaceutical company that his friend, Rich (Joel Edgerton) owns. Harold is a guy who gets constantly run over by life and at the start of the film is on the verge of completely failing at life. But it doesn't make sense to David, he's the kind of guy who does everything right. He's nice to his friends, his family, and he's great at his job. Why is he the one who gets badmouthed by his friends and constantly smacked around by fate? Rather than return to his old life in Chicago, Harold resolves to make a Mexican work trip into a way to change his luck. But this being an action comedy things don't go as planned.
Like I said before, this is an action comedy. The problem is this movie isn't very funny and it doesn't have a ton of action. The story also doesn't make sense and gets unnecessarily complicated for no reason. It just makes the movie feel dumb and preachy as it tries to tell us about how guys like Harold don't get what they deserve. It's just doesn't make for a satisfying or entertaining film.
The film also becomes problematic as it portrays Mexico as this savage and terrible place. Frankly, it just felt like the filmmaker was just trying to use Mexico as a joke and a place that would enable ridiculous shit to happen left and right. It's depicted as a lawless place inhabited by criminals which is just ridiculous and very lazy on the side of the filmmakers. The only person who helps Harold in any way is Amanda Seyfried who is on a vacation to Mexico Which is also very problematic because of every Mexican character in the film is a criminal or someone who turns against Harold.
But there is one upside to the film and that is that the actors really do try their hardest to salvage the material and sometimes it works. Especially the interactions between Oyelowo and Sharlto Copley who plays Edgerton's hitman brother. Oyelowo plays Harold as a simple and often times scared man and it plays off excellently against Copley's weirdly sensitive badass. Even Edgerton and Theron have their funny moments as malevolent business execs who only care about themselves.
But that isn't enough to save this unfunny and poorly crafted film from being the disaster it is. This one isn't worth your time unless you really like watching David Oyelowo be great at whatever he does. But even then, this just feels like a waste of his (and everybody else's) time and talent. [D+]
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