‘Gringo’ Review: It’s NOT a Marijuana Movie and it Misses the Mark

Gringo Movie Poster

I, and the rest of the Let’s Hash It Out podcast crew, only saw Gringo, the latest Charlize Theron vehicle, on opening weekend, because the movie has a cannabis industry aspect to it. Our review is mixed, with my opinion being the harshest of the bunch. While I didn’t hate my cinematic experience, I, unfortunately, didn’t particularly like the movie and the more that I’ve thought about it, the less I like the movie.


Gringo centers on the trials and tribulations of Harold Solyinko (David Oyelowo), a middle manager working at a pharmaceutical company that is developing Cannabex, “a weed pill”, that the company deems “the future” of medical marijuana. Unbeknownst to Harold, his bosses have been selling product to a Mexican drug lord, his employer is about to be sold to a bigger company (which will cost him his job), and his wife is having an affair with one of his bosses (a so-called best friend). There’s also a subplot, meaningless in my opinion, where a guitar shop employee is paid $20,000 by a gal (Paris Jackson making her major big-screen debut) to go to Mexico to steal a few of these pills for someone we never quite learn about and he decides to bring his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfriend) and they have a few encounters with Harold.

What aggravated me most about the movie was the depiction of the status of the cannabis industry. Apparently, Gringo takes place in an alternate reality where the United States hasn’t made as much progress legalizing cannabis as we have and GW Pharmaceuticals hasn’t created Sativex, a sublingual spray derived from the whole cannabis plant. In a pitch to sell their company, Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton) mentions that 20 states have legalized medical marijuana (there are currently 29 states with medicinal cannabis laws on the books) and he doesn’t refer to any states have legalized for all adults.

If you are hoping to sell your weed-pill-producing company, you would think that you would tout all of the states that allow medical and the progress made legalizing for all adults. Additionally, the subplot to steal the weed pill from the factory in Mexico to test it to copy it seems utterly ridiculous to me. Spoiler alert, the secret ingredient is cannabis.

The movie throws in some twists and turns while Harold is down in Mexico and his encounters with a  drug lord (weirdly nicknamed the Black Panther) and a mercenary prove to be some of the highlights of the movie. Even in the best light, the movie is a rather ordinary affair that doesn’t really do anything unique. I was certainly left with the feeling that the film was rushed and some things left on the cutting room floor were needed to add depth to the movie.

I suspect that I’m going to be harsher on this movie than the general public, due to my connection to the cannabis community and industry, but I don’t seem to be alone in thinking that this movie has a lot of wholes. The Rotten Tomatoes scores aren’t too pretty and the movie made less than a million bucks on its opening Friday night. By contrast, Game Night (shameless plug, you can listen to the Let’s Hash It Out review podcast on Soundcloud or here on Weed News), made about 5 times as much on its opening Friday and Rotten Tomatoes has been much friendlier to that superior movie. Two of my podcast co-hosts liked Gringo well enough, so check out our podcast and let us know who you agree with, here on Weed News or via Facebook or Twitter.

Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 136 Articles
Anthony Johnson, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, is the director of New Approach Oregon, working to effectively implement the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature, before regulatory bodies,and at city councils and county commissions across the state.He was proud to work as Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort and director of the Vote Yes on 91 PAC, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. He also advises cannabis entrepreneurs on how to comply with Oregon's laws and helps organize the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference. Anthony's blogs on are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization. You can see his work here at Weed News as well as MarijuanaPolitics.com.