3 out of 5
You would think a film with names like Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo, Thandie Newton and Joel Edgerton would be kind of a big deal. They may not be the biggest names in Hollywood — but I would say that Theron is an A-Lister, and Oyelowo, Newton and Edgerton are right there. Heck, the film even has Amanda Seyfried in it — and she’s been in a few big movies and has had critical praise heaped on her as well. But my guess is “Gringo” will come and go with not much more than a whimper at the box office.
It’s not that it’s a bad movie. It’s not. It’s just not a movie you get excited about and are willing to pay the ever rising cost of a ticket for. With just one viewing of the trailer, you kind of already know what this movie is, and how it will essentially end. And with it essentially being a caper / comedy, with an “R” rating, it’s just not set up to succeed. These are the movies that are made rather inexpensively, do a few weeks in theaters, and then re-coup everything when they are available for rent at home.
Again, it’s not horrible — but it doesn’t require you to invest much in the characters or storyline, and after it’s over — you’re on to the next thing in your life. In other words, it does what a movie is supposed to do — it entertains you, takes you away from the world for a couple of hours — and then let’s you get on with things with not much afterthought.
The star of the film is unquestionably Oyelowo, who deservedly gets top billing. Without him, and his willingness to go all in for the movie, the film bombs. The rest of the characters — perhaps minus Theron — are rather forgettable. The basic plot of the film, without giving it all away, is that he has a rotten friend / boss in Edgerton — who is easily manipulated by Charlize Theron’s character (who really only cares about herself), and a wife that isn’t much better. Once the reality of his job and marriage are unmasked — he decides he will take advantage of the situation and try to start over for himself — at the expense of Edgerton. While he thinks he is succeeding by pretending to be kidnapped in Mexico, a series of events are set off in the States by his slimy friends who inadvertently make Oyelowo’s fake situation become real life. From there it is a race to see who can cross the finish line first.
I have to believe the aforementioned strategy was the endgame for this film. “Gringo” is essentially being thrown to the wolves, so to speak, with “Black Panther” still in theaters and “Wrinkle in Time” being released the same weekend. So if you don’t want to watch Marvel’s runaway train from Wakanda for a 12th time, and you don’t care to see Oprah this weekend — then perhaps “Gringo” will make a nice landing place for you. Or perhaps, you should just take what I believe is the studio’s suggestion and just watch it at home when it’s released in a month or so.