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-
@pegsatthemovies

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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#peggyatthemovies ~ “REVIEW OF “MALEFICENT”

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As far as fantasy movies go, I gotta say I pretty much liked this one minus of course, one or two little things..”Maleficent” is basically the modern day ‘prequel’ of the age old fairy tale ~ ‘Sleeping Beauty’  The villainess (or is she??) “Maleficent” played well by the beautiful Angelina Jolie, who lived a wonderful happy life as a fairy child with wings in a beautiful land where nothing bad ever happened.. Until…of course it does.  She faces the ultimate betrayal as a young woman, by “Stefan” (Sharlto Copely) who not only breaks her heart, but steals from her the one thing that makes her who she is, all in the name of greed and to obtain power and control over kingdom and win the princess.  Which he succeeds at, but of course there is a price to pay hence the story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ The King & Queen have a beautiful child together,” Aurora” (Elle Fanning), and “Maleficent” being whom she is now, a bitter fairy with unbridled powers, puts a curse on the newborn child that on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a wooden spindle and fall into a coma and only can be awakened by ‘true love’, which of course she no longer believes exists. 

The plot thickens as the years go by as it seems that “Maleficent” has a heart after all as she spies on the child who is growing up over the years in the care of 3 bizarre & irresponsible fairy’s, and realizes that the key to peace and possibly her own personal happiness, is after all, “Aurora”. She tries to break the spell which is now unbreakable..During all this time, the now “King Stefan” has made it his mission to destroy “Maleficent” and ensure his daughters safety.  Throughout these years “Maleficent” is accompanied by her ‘wings’ “Diaval” played by Sam Riley, who is so under-utilized here as an actor.  If you want to see what this guy is truly capable of, I suggest you watch “Brighton Rock”, “On the Road” or his stunning portrayal of Ian Curtis of Joy Division fame in “Control” and you will see what I am talking about.

Angelina Jolie is as good as you can be in bringing an animated character to life, and though most of the second act of this movie goes off half-baked somewhat with plot points that go nowhere and sorely lags a bit, but have no fear as it does pick up again in the finale portion of the movie. Still, it’s quite predictable in what the ending will be. The imagery of the fantasy land they live in is truly beautiful and stunning at times..it was probably my favourite thing of the whole movie.  Noteworthy ~ in a small but sweet part is Brenton Thwaites as “Prince Phillip”, I predict we will see much more to come of this young cutie pie, yes I just said cutie pie..:D  

Grade: C+

#peggyatthemovies