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American films

Gringo film review: Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo in twisty crime comedy

Oyelowo shines as a downtrodden employee caught up in this tale of misfortune and mistaken identity – an enjoyable romp

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 7:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 7:01am

3/5 stars

A comic caper with a classy cast all having a blast, Gringo is a rambunctious tale of mishaps and mistaken identity. It’s also got a top-notch turn by Selma ’s David Oyelowo, in a rare comic outing that’s reminiscent of Eddie Murphy in his pomp.

Oyelowo plays Harold, a mild-mannered accountant from Nigeria who works for a Chicago pharmaceutical company run by shady CEOs Elaine (Charlize Theron) and Richard (Joel Edgerton). The film begins as he calls his bosses from Mexico; screaming and hysterical, he’s been kidnapped by thugs who are demanding a ransom.

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The story then flashes back, with Elaine and Richard ready to legitimise their company and cut ties with a violent, Beatles-loving Mexican drug lord embroiled in their business of manufacturing medical marijuana. During a trip south of the border as part of this clean-up, Elaine lets slip that Harold will lose his job, and the accountant sets out to exact revenge.

That’s just a taster of a twisty narrative that comes off like Something Wild or After Hours, those yuppie-in-peril movies from the 1980s. From Richard’s mercenary brother (Sharlto Copley), called in to rescue Harold from his abduction, to Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway’s tourists, unwittingly embroiled in the drama, Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone’s screenplay juggles a multitude of characters and plot strands.

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Directed by former stuntman (and Joel’s brother) Nash Edgerton, Gringo has some real snap to the action scenes, and just the right level of craziness. In the midst of it all, Theron gets to unleash her inner vixen, something she hasn’t really done since 2 Days In The Valley at the very outset of her career.

It’s Oyelowo, though, that provides the heart and soul, as the put-upon employee who is so downtrodden that even his wife (Thandie Newton) is doing the dirty on him.

Gringo is very frantic, occasionally funny and a little forgettable, but it never outstays its welcome.

Gringo opens on April 19

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