RE­VIEWS Messy, but it works

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

(MA15+) Di­rec­tor : Nash Edger­ton ( The Square) Star­ring : David Oyelowo, Joel Edger­ton, Char­l­ize Theron, Thandie New­ton, Sharlto Co­p­ley. Rat­ing :

EV­ERY­THING that is good about Gringo – some­times great, even – can ap­pear as neg­a­tives when put down on pa­per.

Gringo is reck­less. Messy. Con­vo­luted. Er­ratic. Ton­ally mer­cu­rial. Comed­i­cally ques­tion­able.

The per­for­mances in Gringo? All of the above. Per­haps even more so.

And yet, against all odds, Gringo gets away with just about ev­ery­thing it should not.

It is the kind of movie - too clever, too clut­tered and too cool to care what the haters will say - that the Coen broth­ers could do in their sleep. Or Guy Ritchie could do if he woke up.

There is a big fat slab of plot­ting in Gringo that does not lend it­self to easy de­scrip­tion with­out giv­ing the game away on the spoiler front.

So let’s care­fully chip away at the sur­face of the screen­play to get a han­dle on what the hell is go­ing on (and what hell might be po­ten­tially break­ing loose).

It all starts with a gen­tle­man named Harold Soyinka, played by David Oyelowo.

Harold works in mid­dle man­age­ment at a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany, and Harold has been hear­ing things. Ru­mours. Whis­pers. Scut­tle­butt. Call these leaks what you like, but Harold is not lik­ing the in­tel trick­ling down to him.

Harold’s po­si­tion could soon be made re­dun­dant, and his good friend, com­pany CEO Richard Rusk (Joel Edger­ton) might be the one to swing the axe.

Word has it Rusk may have bet too big on the man­u­fac­ture of a prod­uct line – mar­i­juana in the form of a syn­the­sised pill – not yet ruled le­gal by reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties.

Rusk’s ruth­less right-hand wo­man Elaine Markin­son (Char­l­ize Theron) could be also flout­ing the law in as-yetun­known ways.

Per­haps ev­ery­thing will sort it­self out when Harold joins Richard and Elaine on a sud­den busi­ness trip to Mex­ico?

No, it won’t. Par­tic­u­larly once Harold dis­ap­pears from his ho­tel room – pos­si­bly kid- napped – and his bosses fail to sound the alarm about his ab­sence.

Ev­ery­thing men­tioned here tran­spires in just the first act of Gringo. If any­thing, this ini­tial bracket of sto­ry­telling is the nar­ra­tive equiv­a­lent of set­ting up an elab­o­rate chain of domi­noes.

Once the first one goes down, Gringo can barely con­tain its glee un­til the whole lot are knocked over.

Though in essence a throw­away movie out to throw the kitchen sink at its au­di­ence, there is a method to Gringo’s mad­ness that pays tes­ta­ment to the con­sid­er­able film­mak­ing ta­lent of di­rec­tor Nash Edger­ton.

This is only his sec­ond fea­ture (Edger­ton’s de­but, 2008’s The Square is one of the un­der­rated Aus­tralian films of the mod­ern era) and here’s hop­ing there are many more to come.

FAST PACED: Things get messy for David Oyelowo, left, and Sharlto Co­p­ley on a trip to Mex­ico in

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