GRINGO. Directed by Nash Edgerton with David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton, Charlize Theron, Thandie Newton, Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway.



Before I go to a press screening I try to at least check out the who and what of a movie, just to get a frame of reference. Gringo gets only a 6 out of 10 on the usually generous IMDB. I faffed about on IMDB a bit, looking at the director, Nash Edgerton, who is famous for being the director of choice for Bob Dylan’s videos. He is also listed on IMDB as a stunt director, stunt coordinator, stunt man and body double.

So, that’s what I was thinking about when the movie started. That, and also how terrible Charlize Theron was in that movie that I thought was Sean Penn’s revenge on her, The Last Face (also reviewed here on WeekendSpecial).

But. Gringo was utterly surprising, and totally hilarious. David Oyelwo plays a hapless, clueless chump, Harold, who works for conniving and immoral business partners played to hideous perfection by Joel Edgerton (more famous brother of the director) and Charlize Theron. They are the most despicable, ruthless, vile humans, who send Harold to Mexico to do their illegal work, without him having a clue. Things turn bad when he finds out just enough info about how they are going to shaft him, and he ends up staying in Mexico and masterminding the worst and most unsuccessful fake kidnapping of his own self.

Totally convoluted plot

The plot is totally convoluted, with twists and turns featuring Mexicans, drug dealers, an ex mercenary brother (Sharlto Copley), small time motel owners, many car accidents and chases, bizarre animal analogies, and even the blossoming of an unusual friendship. Every possible horrible thing happens to Harold, and even though things get more violent and unlikely and ridiculous, it somehow manages to stay hilarious.

Watching this movie is like watching an accident and laughing. I felt guilty for having such fun. There are massive holes in the plot, incredibly unlikely scenarios, tons of gratuitous violence, weird editing, and the style and cinematography is all over the place, but I wasn’t bored once, kept rooting for the underdog, and was sad when it was over. Gringo won’t win an Oscar or break a box office record, but will make me smile every time I think about it.

What: Gringo

Where and when: Ster-Kinekor cinemas from 23 March 2018

Book: Ster-Kinekor website