Stuck in a dead-end marriage and dreary daily routine at a Chicago pharmaceutical company, he begins to question the career opportunity afforded him by boss Richard Rusk (played by Aussie actor Joel Edgerton, of The Great Gatsby, whose elder brother Nash directs).
When Harold decides to do something desperate about his work scenario, and his poor financial situation at home while he’s at it, the hapless fish-out-water businessman becomes embroiled in a tangled web of deceit and violence involving hostage retrieval and vengeful Beatles-obsessed Mexican drug lords.
It’s arguably a little flimsy in places, but the twisty storyline is lifted by a significant cast that also includes Amanda Seyfried as doting girlfriend Sunny accompanying her chap on a misguided smuggling trip to Mexico and Thandie Newton as Harold’s unreliable and free-spending wife Bonnie.
Some of the best lines, however, fall to Theron who discards her recent female action hero guise for a lascivious, potty-mouthed boardroom vamp. She also produced the film.
“I like Elaine because there’s something unfiltered and unapologetic about her,” says the Monster, Aeon Flux and Atomic Blonde star of her rare comic role.
For classically trained Oyelowo, the movie is also a change of pace.
“I’ve played all these roles that are fairly quote-unquote important,” he says.
“Before Gringo came along, I’d never really done a dark comedy before. The goofy side of me had always been reserved for my kids and my friends, so for me, Gringo was a great opportunity to express that part of my personality.”
Gringo doesn’t quite hit that level, but Nash Edgerton – formerly a stuntman for 20 years in the likes of The Matrix Trilogy and Star War: Episode I and II – puts his action training to good use behind the lens.
Gringo is an entertaining couple of hours which pushes beyond the novelty of seeing some big names acting out of their usual comfort zone.
Gringo is out now.