MARCH 9, 2018 -- Bills have to be paid and mortgages must be met; that is the only reason you can attribute to a cast of good actors lending themselves to a film so unimaginative; it makes "Final Destination" movies look like Oscar winners.


David Oyelowo has appeared in several outstanding films, most notably "Selma" and "The Queen of Katwe", which gained critical acclaim. Yet here he is in two back-to-back stinkers (he is also in "A Wrinkle in Time") that will surely make it hard to nail down more meaningful roles. Even more, he is joined by the lovely Charlize Theron, Thandi Newton and Amanda Seifried in this $20 million flick.


Surely very little of that budget was spent on writing as this is one of the most unoriginal narratives you'll encounter this year. It's one of those "Have you ever had a day when everything goes wrong?" movies.

Oyelowo is Harold Soyninka a middle manager for a pharmaceutical company run by his friend Richard Rush (Joel Edgerton) and Elaine Markinson (Theron). He is married to Bonnie (Newton), his lovely wife who runs her own business - though she only has one client. His day starts with his personal accountant informing him that he is nearly bankrupt because of his wife's spending habits.


The day progresses with him learning that the company he's working for is about to merge with another company and likely to cut him, plus that same wife is leaving him for another man. Worse yet, the CEO of the company is his long time friend Rusk (Edgerton) who has every intention to cutting ties with Harold.


When Rusk and Elaine send Harold to Mexico to check on production of their key product - a medicinal marijuana pill, Harold decides to stage his own fake kidnapping to milk $5 million out of the company. But while he's doing that, Rusk is trying to camouflage the fact he has been syphoning off product to a local drug cartel - and intends to cease the deal. The drug cartel boss doesn't like it so he orders the actual kidnapping of Harold so he can dish out some Mexican justice.


More stuff is tossed in, including a DEA investigation and a side job of smuggling some of the pills out so they can copied. Everything goes haywire thereby compounding the trouble Harold is now in. With all the murder and mayehm depicted, "Gringo" tries to be a dark comedy. Sadly, you can easily predict every scene and every so-called twist. We have seen this a million times before.


The strong cast barely makes a dent in the run-of-the-mill story with Newton and Seyfried really forcing any kind of emotion. Edgerton is totally unbelievable as anyones CEO.


"Gringo" is a little more than watchable if for no other reason as to guess when various characters get bumped off. It reaffirms the concept of early year crap films.   -- GRADE C --   GEOFF BURTON