By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
is a fun and at times very funny movie thanks largely to its lead star, David Oyelowo.
If he weren’t in it, it would limp along and be an utter bore.
Oyelowo is a remarkable actor and is best known for his work in dramatic films like director Ava DuVernay’s stirring “Selma,” and “Lee Daniels' The Butler” as well as “Queen of Katwe” and “United Kingdom.”
So to see Oyelowo cut loose and act so silly is rather refreshing and a wonderful change of pace.
In “Gringo,” from director Nash Edgerton (“Mr.Inbetween”)— brother of Joel Edgerton--Oyelowo plays Harold Soyinka, a kind-hearted, nerdy and loyal Nigerian pharmaceutical rep who works for the Chicago-based company Promethium.
The company has created and is about to release a medical marijuana pill that they believe will revolutionize the pharmaceutical and cannabis industry. Not to mention it’s going to make the company very rich.
Harold is eager to share in the success of the new pill.
Unfortunately, Harold is so naďve that he hasn’t seen any of the signs from his narcissistic and ruthless boss/CEO, Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton, “Red Sparrow”). Richard has absolutely no intentions of giving Harold a piece of the company pie.
He continues to lead Harold on with empty promises about him being patient and that will lead to him becoming a very rich man.
Richard is so conniving and convincing that Harold is unaware that his very boss is having an affair with his wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton, TV’s “Westworld”).
Richard is quite the player and is also juggling a relationship with his equally ruthless business partner, Elaine (the perfect and seductive Charlize Theron, “The Fate of the Furious”).
Well, when Harold is asked to go to Mexico to facilitate the implementation of a factory, things become even crazier.
Actually, Richard uses Harold against a drug cartel headed by the corrupt, Juan Miguel Villegas, aka, The Black Panther (Carlos Corona). Villegas is insane, yet he has an obsession with the Beatles. A scene involving him questioning a worker regarding a couple of Beatle’s album is actually quite funny.
Meanwhile, Richard believes he can make more money by going legit and not sell his cannabis pills on the black market. Of course, that news doesn’t sit well with Villegas and he demands answers, money and a shipment of the pills.
As Richard and Elaine plan their next move, poor Harold is being targeted by Villegas’ henchmen. That prompts Harold into devising a crazy scheme involving a fake kidnapping which entails Richard and Elaine paying a $5 million ransom for his return.
The plan goes way off the rails especially when Richard’s former military brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley, TV’s “Powers”) is asked to capture Harold. Now, it becomes a race between Mitch and Villegas’ men to see who will get Harold first.
There are a lot of moving parts to “Gringo.” The movie often suffers because of its overstuffed narrative which also includes a goofy and disposable story involving Amanda Seyfried (“Mama Mia: Here We Go Again”) and her boyfriend Miles (Harry Treadaway, TV’s “Mr. Mercedes”) who may or may not be involved with Villegas dirty dealings. And even Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris turns up in the mix.
But again, its Oyelowo, whose madcap humor-- which we have rarely seen him display before--is what makes “Gringo” work in spite of all its other shortcomings.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Take A Peek At This Trailer For "GRINGO"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.