Charlize Theron and David Oyelowo in Gringo (Photo: STX)
**1/2 (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Nash Edgerton
STARS David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron
A-list actors cutting loose is the prime draw of Gringo, an irreverent comedy in which Charlize Theron mocks the deaf, Joel Edgerton informs a Mexican that “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” and David Oyelowo is shown gettin’ jiggy wit it.
Oyelowo, Selma’s MLK, here plays Harold Soyinka, who, when he’s not busy singing along to Will Smith in his car, is being played the patsy by practically everyone around him. Too nice for this world, the sweet and trusting Harold works for bosses (Edgerton and Theron) ready to sell him out, loves a wife (Thandie Newton) who’s been cheating behind his back, and runs afoul of a powerful drug lord known as (with apologies to Marvel) The Black Panther (Carlos Corona). The only decent person he encounters during his disaster-plagued business trip to Mexico is a fellow American named Sunny (Amanda Seyfried) – he might be able to trust a cheery mercenary (Sharlto Copley) who unexpectedly arrives on the scene, but he’s not entirely certain.
A hot mess of a movie, Gringo initially maintains interest with its various twists and turns. But as the movie progresses, the storyline splinters rather than gels, and the climax is the usual standard-procedure car chase followed by the usual standard-issue shootout. Still, the picture nevertheless benefits from its engaging roster of actors, including Oyelowo in an immensely likable turn. Best of all, though, is Theron, who has lately been testing her action credentials with the likes of Atomic Blonde and Mad Max: Fury Road. This time, she prefers to flex her comedic muscles, resulting in a ferociously funny performance that takes no prisoners.