REVIEW: GRINGO (2018) STX Entertainment / Amazon Studios

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Over the past few years, Nash Edgerton has bounced – possibly literally – between being a top-notch stuntman and a career as a burgeoning director. After a stack of shorts and a 2008 feature The Square, co-written with his more famous sibling Joel, he now steps things up with “GRINGO”, a comedy-thriller-esque type movie that looks sharp in the trailers.

With brother Joel Edgerton on board as one of the co-leads, Richard Rusk – alongside Charlize Theron as his co-conspirator Elaine Markinson and David Oyelowo as the trusty but naive, Harold Soyinka what you have here is a south-of-the-border caper with blood, guns and medical marijuana. As the film opens, crooked business partners Richard and Elaine – post-boardroom bonk – get a call from their Harold, screaming that he’s been kidnapped in Mexico.

That’s just the start – or rather the mid-point – of a twisty amoral adventure where no one is to be trusted and most are to be feared or so they like you to be – but you’re not. Flashing back and forth, the film fleshes things out..sort of. In the process of ditching their Chicago pharmaceutical firm to a conglomerate, Richard and Elaine are looking to cut ties with one of their more shady partners in the business of manufacturing medical marijuana.

Harold, the only good guy amid this nest of ever growing scumbags, and yes, even his wife Bonnie – played by Thandie Newton – is doing the dirty on him with no less that his own boss and supposed friend, Richard. Harold gets wind that he’s going to be out of a job and this is when he realises that his employers couldn’t care less about the fact he has been kidnapped, he sets out to turn the tables. But little is straightforward in a dense plot that also ropes in Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway as tourists and Sharlto Copley as a mercenary with a conscience.
Double-crosses, cases of mistaken identity… just trying to keep up and make sense of what’s going on at this point, leaves you out of sorts with a plot that really isn’t going anywhere. The script is guilty of trying way to hard, to go into sub-Tarantino area – and completely not succeeding in this endeavour.

Performances vary: Theron’s foul-mouthed act wears thin very fast and honestly, I thought she would be a lot funnier than she was, Edgerton passes you by again, not speaking in his own voice (I’m really so very over this Joel), but Copley provides a few live wire moments. Oyelowo isn’t known for his comedic turns and you will see why here with a mostly blah performance with one or two ha! ha! moments by him. While it’s a pity talents like Seyfried and Treadaway are just a weird almost background note here, as their characters almost seem as if they were given something to do, they would be funny. This is one of those films where the trailer shows you all the fun, best moments of a film that’s not terrible, but very easy to forget.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Friday, February 23, 2018 ~ Courtesy of STX Entertainment
GRINGO will be release nationwide & UK on Friday, March 9, 2018 ~ Worldwide release throughout Mar/Apr

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REVIEW: “SNATCHED” (2017) 20TH CENTURY FOX

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The premise of SNATCHED is simple. Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) gets fired from her retail job in an very funny opening scene, then dumped by her boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) in another good comedic scene and convinces her super cautious house-bound mom Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go on this ‘non-refundable’ vacation with her to Ecquador. While on vacation Emily meets James (Tom Bateman), the stunning hot Brit who has some of the funniest scenes with Schumer of this whole hit-n-miss film. As for Emily and her mother, well they fall into in a completely predictable but hilarious tale, that despite a few lulls here and there, will make you laugh for most of the 90 minute run time.

The shenanigans which ensue is what makes this film a comedy, and while it might not match up to Trainwreck, it’s definitely a must see for some good laughs with just enough sentiment added into the mix for Mother’s Day. The rest of the cast features Ike Barinholtz as her mamas-boy brother Jeffrey, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack as the hysterically funny duo of Ruth & Barb. Add in a couple of essential co-starring roles and you have Christopher Meloni doing a short but oh-so-sweetly-done stint as funny-man, Explorer/Trader Joe’s store manager’ Roger Simmons, and Bashir Salahuddin as State Dept. Agent Morgan Russell who constant hilarious phones calls with Emily & Jeffrey add some good laughs into the mix.

Make no mistake though, this is Amy Schumer’s movie and she defnitely takes center stage in this one and pulls it off – not as completely as say she did in Trainwreck, but still does a commendable job. And yes, you will need to like her brand of comedy to be able to find the fun so to speak. Goldie is well..Goldie, and at one part showing pictures her younger-self just takes you back in time for a moment. Of course there are some completely implausable situations, but for the most part they pull them it off. I will say though, if you’re planning to take your mom for this one and she doesn’t like in your face comedy, you might get grounded as it’s R-rated for a reason. Lastly, director Jonathan Levine along with producers Peter Chernin and Paul Fieg, knew what they were doing here on run-time as they didn’t overstay their welcome and try to make it last longer than needed.
Is this the best comedy you will ever see..no it’s not, but it’s definitely a passable way to spend 90 minutes.

Grade: C
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Media Review Screening: Monday, May 8, 2017 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
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