What happens if you attempt to take the street hoodlums from a Guy Ritchie flick and transport them to the world of corporate America? Or, conversely, if you try to take corporate America and dump it into the midst of a Guy Ritchie flick? The results might look something like this rendition of Horrible Bosses made even more horrible, Gringo, only, you’ll be lacking the creative or comedic genius behind those films. Gringo’s a hodge-podge of both the multi-character crime-entanglement genre and the I’m glad my boss isn’t that bad genre, only, it does neither as well as other entries in the respective series.
The only truly funny thing about this movie is imagining that director Nash Edgerton channeled some of his relationship with star and brother Joel Edgrton into the film. As noted--this is only my confirmed imagination.
Director: Nash Edgerton
Release Date: March 9, 2018
Harold (David Oyelowo) is a nice guy. Too nice. He has a job working for some sort of pharmaceutical company helmed by bosses so heinous you wonder how they ever managed to climb any ladder except by stealing it first. He does his job well and is thoughtful in how he does it, even if he’s not mastered it enough to learn the language of the land in which he works, or the inner workings of his company enough to understand the manipulative and illegal maneuverings his bosses are making under his nose. Harold follows the creed laid down by his oft spoke of, never seen father: do the right thing and success will come (I paraphrase).
Oh, and it turns out Harold’s friends with his big boss, Richard (Joel Edgerton). That’s how he has his job. Yet somehow, despite being longtime friends, Harold is so nice he’s oblivious to Richard’s nature and shortcomings as a human being.
It turns out that Richard is selling marijuana-based products to a cartel drug-lord because the company’s production facility (managed by Harold) is located in Mexico, and because he needs money to keep the company afloat. His Partner In Crime, or perhaps co-boss, or perhaps even head boss, Elaine (Charlize Theron) is equally despicable and says and does everything to illicit copious hate from the audience, if not Harold who’s too nice to hate her.
Did I mention that Richard is boning Harold’s wife behind his back? Did I mention that Richard is an asshole? He is, let’s be clear, and played to asshole, if not clichéd, perfection by Edgerton. Don’t worry, you’ll see the affair coming a mile away. I won’t give away real surprises. And that’s the point, really. You’ll see nearly everything coming. When Richard, to open the film, hurriedly runs to answer his office phone, fumbling with his pants and belt while yelling at his secretary that he’s in a meeting and she knows to hold all calls--you know that the only meeting he’s in involves a D and a V and has nothing to do with business.
The formula follows the steps the formula should. A math teacher might give this a perfect 100 for the work being shown exactly as it should, step by step. But a film critic might give it less than perfect marks for still ending up with the wrong result despite the perfect work. Audiences deserve more than formulas; they deserve originality, creativity, and surprise. This is an Amazon Studios production, and being Amazon, they’re just getting their footing making movies, so following formulas makes sense, from a big, corporate perspective. On the other hand, some of the most financially successful production companies out there right now (i.e. Blumhouse) have become so by refusing to follow formulas (take notes Bezos boys).
Also, this is not the Sixth Sense, so the one surprise not revealed by marketing materials is not going to make this worth the trip to the theater. I admire Oyelowo’s acting—he’s a convincing every day, hardworking nice guy, but he seems to find plots to connive his way to financial gain far too easily when he finally sees the wrongdoing being done to him.
Does every nice guy have bad guy plans on standby for when they’ve finally had enough? It’s a fair question and one this film doesn’t really address. But no worries, the twists and turns and smart-talking drug bosses who dolefully dispatch extras with no remorse all provide A + B = Z to average affair.
You’ll probably leave the theater thinking, wow, that was a movie. A movie is what it was.