Rated R, 110 minutes
Silly and over-the-top, the dark new crime comedy "Gringo" fluctuates somewhere between mild and spicy, occasionally lacking flavor with a wildly inconsistent narrative.
Harold Soyinka ("Selma's" David Oyelowo) is an average businessman who works for a company that has developed the "Weed Pill", a pill form medical marijuana. Harold's ruthless bosses, Elaine Markinson (Oscar-winner Charlize Theron) and Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton), send him to Mexico to handle the manufacturing of the product, but while out partying he ends up getting kidnapped by the cartel, which holds a grudge against Harold's bosses and their company. Richard hires a professional named Mitch ("District 9's" Sharlto Copley) to safely get Harold out of harm's way, but it'll be miracle if anyone is left standing.
The likable, modest "Gringo" is an occasionally funny yet unfocused look at how ambitious U.S. businesses can be abroad. It's directed by Joel's brother, Australian director Nash Edgerton and is co-written by Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone. While it has a solid, talented cast who performs it well, it's nothing really new; the first act is peppered with some fun, dark moments ala Coen Brothers, before veering off into a muddled, baffling last act that doesn't make much sense.
It's really an unmemorable affair whose calling card may be the blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo from Michael Jackson's daughter Paris, who appears quicker than you can say "Beat It." In addition to its sluggish tone, "Gringo's" script has a few problems, namely stuffing it with so many unnecessary characters, which wastes some good character actors in Thandie Newton, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, Yul Vazquez and Alan Ruck. Edgerton, Oyelowo are good, though it's Theron in particular who has fun chomping scenery as a corporate vamp scheming her way to the top.
There are lots of details that "Gringo" leaves unexplained, yet all the while, there's sex, lots of blood and people getting shot, and one character even loses his big toe. I'm not sure what all of it really means from the messy storyline, but it can be occasionally entertaining. "Gringo" is enjoyable, forgettable fun that goes down as easy as a frozen margarita and chips and salsa, but it certainly lacks buzz and cohesiveness.