Chicago based pharmaceutical worker Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is having a bad life. His accountant Stu (Bashir Salahuddin) has just informed him that his wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) has spent him into bankruptcy. His bosses Rich Rusk and Elaine Markinson (Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron) are predatory, unsympathetic, basically evil, and sleeping together. Rich is his best friend. Bonnie is cheating on him with Rich. And Harold’s in Mexico, about to be out of a job because the company is selling out. So what else can he do but fake kidnapping by the cartel and wait for his five million dollar ransom?
The problem is, his bosses have actually been selling their new weed pill to Villegas (Carlos Corona), a Beatles-crazed cartel boss, to build up capital in the pharmaceutical company. Now that they’re going under, they’ve cut the cartel off, and Villegas is clearly unhappy. When he discovers that Harold is the one who can open the safe that contains the formula for the pill, he puts out the call that he wants Harold found.
Meanwhile, Rich is panicking about Harold’s situation, so he puts out the call to his brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley), a bounty hunter-turned-relief worker, to find Harold and bring him back cheaper. Off Mitch goes, locating Harold easily, and agreeing to help him instead of his evil brother. But when he finds out about Harold’s company life insurance policy, changes his mind and decides to kill the poor guy to help relief efforts in Haiti.
Add in a few chance meetings with Miles and Sunny (Harry Treadaway and Amanda Seyfried), the couple across the hall, cartel and US government agents hiding in plain sight, a company takeover, and two bumbling hotel owners/rich guy wannabes, and you have the plot of Nash Edgerton’s Gringo. It even comes with a surprise, not so surprising ending!
I laughed out loud several times, and spent a long time afterward trying to decide what exactly I had just seen. There are a couple of minor bloody parts, a lot of swearing, and a few scenes of the sex-related variety, but I enjoyed the film. Definitely worthy of that R rating, but in what I’m sure is a good way. Maybe.