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Cinema review: Gringo

Gringo

Nash and Joel Edgerton, the brothers from Blacktown, in Sydney’s West, have combined in a glossy scam-flick that has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and an acceptable infusion of graphic violence to ensure that the tone is not too tongue in cheek. There is even an indulgent but funny debate between two characters at the scene of a crime over the actions of the disciples Peter and Judas. With a background as a stuntman, director Nash brings plenty of raw physicality to the story of hapless Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo), who is played for a stooge by his unscrupulous boss, Richard Rusk (Joel). An over the top Charlize Theron is Elaine, Rusk’s ruthless partner who will do whatever it takes, in the office and the sack, to feather her nest. Things go awry for them when they send Soyinka on an assignment from Chicago to Mexico, his mission to deliver the formula for a cannabis pill. As the innocent abroad, Soyanka finds himself in hot water with a number of shoofty characters, including a brutal cartel boss who wants his head on a platter – and this is where the movie’s intrigue kicks in. Does Harold stay one step ahead of those who are hunting him down by accident or design? It’s a clever performance from Oyelowo, balancing the bathos of being dumped by his wife (Thandy Newton) with humour, naivety and rat cunning. Countering the outright nastiness of Rusk, Elaine and the drug baron Villegas (Carlos Corona), who has a murderous affection for the Beatles, as well as a shady bloke who might or might not be working for a US government agency (Yul Vazquez), Harold is easy to like as the battler in a big bad world. The location shots in Mexico City and Vera Cruz are lurid and earthy – Harold’s el cheapo hotel and the two chancers who run it are fantastic – and the plot, if convoluted, arrives at an outcome that is satisfactory to all. Great fun.


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