REVIEWS Messy, but it works
(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