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Movie Review: 'Gringo,' Starring Charlize Theron and David Oyelowo

Charlize Theron as Elaine Markinson in "Gringo." Cannabax is Prometheum’s medical-marijuana pill.

Despite the pot leaf on its poster and a lot of weed hype in the TV trailer, Gringo has little to do with marijuana, other than the film's central premise.

Cannabax - "the future of marijuana"

Prometheum Pharmaceuticals in Chicago has a secret lab in Mexico that's manufacturing a pot pill called Cannabax. But when Prometheus wants to cut back on production, the cartel they're dealing with is not happy.

Gringo stars Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton (Elaine and Richard) as the fiendish duo behind Prometheum, and David Oyelowo (Harold), last seen in Get Out, as the beleagured middle manager who ends up stealing the film.

As an action caper, Gringo is top notch. The writing is crisp, cinematography by Eduard Grau sharp and direction by Nash Edgerton masterful. However, some may see it as a stereotypical depiction of an all-powerful drug lord and his murderous minions. For example, El Jefé Villegas (Carlos Corona), who's known as "The Black Panther," mercilessly executes two of his low-level snoops in front of Harold, who has to wriggle out of every life-threatening situation he's thrust into.

Watch the Gringo Trailer

While Richard eventually will get his comeupance, as most film villains do, Elaine transitions from callous corporate head to victim when she learns she's being two timed, as is Harold, by the same person. 

Gringos: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton.

A subplot involving the boyfriend-girlfriend team Miles and Sunny played by Harry Treadaway and Amanda Seyfried pulls the storyline together. Miles takes her to Mexico where he's supposed to pick up a batch of the sought after pills. Starting in the airport, their paths cross with Harold multiple times. When Sunny comes to Harold's aid after one of his misadventures, she affectionately dubs him Harry. 

Another strong performance comes from Sharlto Copley, who plays Rick's mercenary brother Mitch. Thinking Harold was kidnapped, he dispatches Mitch to find Harold and pay the ransom. Also worth noting is a cameo by Paris Jackson. Her character, Nelly, sends Miles and Sunny to  Mexico to mule back the Cannabex pills.

The third act is full of shootouts and car stunts, with Harold narrowly escaping one dangerous scenario after another. It's like running the gaunlet and it's fun to watch. 

As Oyelowo showed in his Golden Glove-nominated role as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, he's a force on screen. Though Oyelowo is British, his Harold is Nigerian. He brings a lot of African spirit to the role.

I highly recommended Gringo. Just don't go expecting to see Charlize Theron's Elaine get high on her pharmaceutical supply, which she hypes is "the future of marijuana." 

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, editor-in-chief of Freedom Leaf, co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness, and the former editor of High Times.