I’m confused, is Gringo supposed to be a comedy or not? The trailer is full on comedy, but if experience has taught me anything regarding films like The Village, Inglourious Basterds and Inherent Vice, you can’t even trust trailers to get the genre right so let’s not hold that against the film, the film contains, what feel like they’re supposed to be anyway, “jokes”, but then there are long stretches in which there are no jokes to be found. Lines and deliveries in the trailer that came off as funny are much more serious and sometimes even downright sinister in the actual movie but, you know what, enough about the trailer, let’s judge the movie on its own terms… I still don’t know what it’s supposed to be because it doesn’t even seem like the movie knows what it’s supposed to be, tonally and narratively; Gringo is an almost good mess.
David Oyelowo plays a loveable loser businessman who is sent to Mexico by corrupt bosses Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron only to get caught up with drug lords, smugglers, mercenaries, death faking, car chases and a hundred and one subplots that seem only to serve the purpose of… actually I have no idea what purpose they serve. One subplot concerns Amanda Seyfried and her drug smuggling boyfriend who wants to get a hold of some of the bad company’s new medical marijuana without her knowledge and it all amounts to NOTHING!
The movie is directed by Edgerton’s brother, Nash, who has some experience in directing before this, that I hear turned out quite well, but juggling different tones does not seem to be his forte. But I don’t think it’s all his fault, guy needs to work on his directorial comedic timing, good luck next time, the real source of issue is the script, not the slick and sometimes downright handsome cinematography, not the cast, in fact I loved the cast, it’s the story and the way the script structures it.
When you boil the film down to its premise, it becomes even more of a mess because everything that happens leading up to the story finally kicking into gear feels like desperate contrivance, like they started with the premise but had zero idea how to actually get there and so you’re left with an overstuffed opening act that would be fine if it lead to satisfying development but I really don’t think it does. There’s a bit of perspective jumping that doesn’t lead to incoherence but I still found myself wondering why it was structured that way, I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t think it was messy and it’s the kind of messy that makes me think the script was rushed to the finish line and never given a second thought.
Gringo isn’t a bad film, I’m very split, it’s well shot, Nash can clearly handle all things technical and the actors are all great but I found it very slow, inconsistent and overstuffed, the script is such a mess and the tone so flip-floppy I was just scratching my head the entire time trying to get some kind of grip or define it in some why. I think it’s worth a look because all of my complaints are subjective to my point of view and I know some people who do like it so, hey, don’t take my word for it, give a shot, maybe you’ll feel differently.