The cool things about smaller movies is that they’re able to take risks that big budget movies aren’t able to take. With movies that are made with small budgets, you get more room to operate because the level of financial failure will never be all that great if it flops. Plus, it can also end up being a good thing if the movie hits big. I think something like Gringo could be one of those kinds of films that could be a success, but it will need a lot to go right for it in order for that to happen.
When businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) unearths potential corruption within the organization he works for, he finds himself a target of business colleagues and drug lords in Mexico. Now as a marked man, the mild-mannered law-abiding citizen must survive the dangerous situations that he seem to follow him at every turn. In order to do that, he’s going to need a plan, some good fortune and the right amount of help that may come from unlikely sources.
The story of Gringo works as well as it does because there’s a constant effort to try to introduce conflict. When looking at how it’s structured, this proves to be important. It’s kind of an odd way to tell a story because “the meat” of it can be considered to be fairly thin. The setup is developed and unfolded in a way that sees everything being spread out through both the first and second acts. In a sense, you can say that there is more of a “slow burn” here in how it’s delivered to us.
One way they constantly create conflict is through the characters. We’re learning more about what’s going on at about the same time that our protagonist is. We’re also being introduced to new characters as everything is being set into place. This works because new dimensions are steadily being added that help to generate interest while simultaneously building a good story.
Under ordinary circumstances, the characters are there to guide us through the story. In Gringo, these guys are actually creating the story and all of the events that are taking place. Usually, you’ll see the characters reacting to unfortunate circumstances brought on to them by one side. Here, there’s a game going on that sees multiple sides getting involved and shifting the goals whenever someone new enters the game that’s being played.
With the characters being as crucial as they are to the plot and the movie itself, bringing a number of good actors into the film proved to be an imperative. In every situation, the actors show their skills and personality. One of those actors is Joel Edgerton. I’ve never been a big fan of his, but he pulls off what may be his best performance since Warrior back in 2011.
Charlize Theron’s portrayal as the sultry character she stars as is also worthwhile here. To the surprise of probably very few, her depiction of this type of person feels natural and flows within the movie even though her character is unique in terms of her surroundings. Along with the other supporting cast members, she’s someone you need to keep your eye on as everything around our protagonist begins to change and grow.
Speaking of the protagonist, David Oyelowo is the stand out as he is able to use a heightened level of personality that I don’t think I’ve ever seen him use before. Watching him in what can be considered a somewhat of a comedic role was a treat and I’d like to see him do more. For the longest, I’ve seen him play serious characters, but he’s doing something here that really illustrates just how much range as an actor he has.
What’s weird about saying that about Oyelowo is that Gringo misses on a good portion of the jokes. This is usually a bad thing when speaking of comedies, but the rest of what’s included is so strong, that I didn’t really mind that a rarely laughed at most of what was being shared with us. That’s one of the important reasons behind making a well structured film that has a lot of things working in its favor. Even when a crucial part of the film doesn’t work, all of the other aspects can carry the load.
This doesn’t look like it will be the type of movie that brings in a ton of money. However, I think people who choose to see Gringo will be happy that they actually watched it. With this being as fun as it is, I’m hoping that I’m wrong and it catches on within the general public. In my opinion, films like this are welcome anytime since it does take some risks that actually work and brings something different at least as far as structure is concerned.
Director: Nash Edgerton
Film Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2018
Distributor: STX Films
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10