GRINGO: There’s a scene in director Stanley Kramer’s OKLAHOMA CRUDE (1973) where a “wildcatter” (George C. Scott) sticks the barrel of a rifle under the chin of an oil trust baron (Jack Palance) before relieving himself on the mortified captain of industry. During the flow of the moment, the former says to the latter, “Businessmen do this to each other all the time”. Maybe that was supposed to be the dominant theme of this disjointed movie with multiple plots that were supposed to intersect with each other but only lead to disappointing dead ends. Since most of the characters here are back stabbing scumbuckets, our sympathies always lie with a straight arrow businessman (David Oyelowo) being two-timed by his free-spending, philandering wife (Thandie Newton) who’s sleeping with one of his bosses (Joel Edgerton). Eventually, he decides to turn the tables on his employers by faking his own kidnapping in Mexico which turns into a real abduction. The remainder of the narrative plays out like a mediocre “road movie” where various characters like a former mercenary turned humanitarian (Sharlto Copley), a pair of out of their league American “mules” (Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway) and a Mexican drug lord (Carlos Corona), known as The Black Panther (I’m not kidding.), who has a psychopathic love for The Beatles all wander in and out of the proceedings. Occasionally, the dialogue ventures forth into the sort of free form exposition normally mined by Quentin Tarantino (PULP FICTION) the writer. But for a self-described dark comedy, GRINGO’s comic touches are so few and far between that when they do manage to surface, they feel like unwanted interruptions. Characters, with the exception of Copley (DISTRICT 9), are rather ill-defined with way too many inconsistencies in the story. The most accurate description I can give this movie is “underachieving” since it feels like there are dueling stories vying for your attention that never come close to approaching their full potential. CRITIC’S GRADE: D+