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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Harold Soyinka has tried to be a good man.

He's made every effort to support his wife, Bonnie. Even though her lousy business choices have almost driven them to bankruptcy, he's never wavered in his love. Nor his support.

On his own job front, Harold has been a devoted employee, too. Ever since joining Cannabax Technologies, a company that sells medical marijuana in pill form, he's kept his nose to the grindstone. He's been loyal to his boss and friend, Richard Rusk. And he's worked diligently to cultivate solid business practices and relationships within the Mexican branch of the company that he oversees.

However, all of Harold's efforts seem to be for naught.

Harold's heard, you see, swirling rumors about a corporate merger and his own dismissal. He's discovered lies that Richard has told him. Worse, he's seen evidence of illegal corporate activities and illicit interoffice sexual trysts. Oh, and speaking of that, his wife just told him she's been having an affair of her own and is leaving him.

Wait, the good man beatdown doesn't end there, either.

Harold is currently in Mexico and in danger of being kidnapped by a local drug lord thanks to someone else's unscrupulous choices. There might even be a hired professional out there somewhere trying to kill him so that someone can cash in on his life insurance policy.

Yeah, Harold is thinking that being a good guy kinda bites. So what's a decent sort of fellow supposed do when everything turns to … not very decent at all?

Positive Elements

Harold does indeed wrestle with his own sense of moral decency as his life crumbles. He meets an American woman named Sunny who listens to his bad experiences and his growing doubts about the world and then comforts him. "I think it's just some of the people in the world who are wrong," she suggests. But it's telling that her modest suggestion is about as good as anything ever gets here.

Spiritual Content

Harold meets a former hit man named Mitch who's wrestling with questions about right and wrong in his life, too. After seeing Harold fall to his knees and call out for God's help, he talks to Harold about whether or not it's possible to trust Scripture or believe in God. "You really believe in God?" Mitch asks Harold. "Of course, I do," Harold replies. "What kind of person doesn't believe in God?" That said, Mitch does say that he thinks that a particular earthquake was "God's will."

Sexual Content

Richard is an unscrupulous man who has sex with both his business partner, Elaine, and with Harold's wife, Bonnie. We see him with both women at different points. In each scene, the two participants are at least partially clothed (there's no nudity) while movements and caressing are visible.

Elaine's sexuality is on constant display as she wears tight and very revealing outfits (including a blouse that exposes her bra in front). She purposely moves in ways that attract the gazes of men (and the camera), an allure she uses to manipulate some of them to get what she wants.

Both Elaine and Richard are more than comfortable talking in crude sexual terms about lewd sexual activities. They do so repeatedly in casual conversations.

Violent Content

This pic doesn't shy away from grisly visuals, either. In fact, it seems to inject them at sporadic points for shock value. We watch a man's toe being cut off by a large pair of bolt cutters, for example. Another person is shot in the temple, and his brains splash the interior of a car window. Two young men are gunned down, execution-style, with bullets to the forehead. Several others are shot in the torso or head. (We see some of these victims lying on the floor with pools of blood beneath them). A huge shoot-out takes place between some 20 men with automatic weapons, and men and vehicles are riddled with bullets.

Speeding vehicles get crushed by large trucks. Multiple cars flip, tumble and crash. Men crawl out of car wreaks, cut and bloodied, and in one case unable to walk. One guy who's hit by a car is sent tumbling down a steep embankment. He comes up scraped and bleeding.

Several scenes picture people being roughly manhandled, hit with heavy objects, punched and beaten with a weapon's stock. A woman slaps a man across the face. Harold burns his own forearm with a lit cigarette. He's also stuck by a microchip-injecting needle.

Crude or Profane Language

Some 80 f-words and more a dozen s-words join a handful of uses of "a--hole." The n-word is spit out once. God's and Jesus' names are misused seven or eight times total, two of which misuses pair God's name with harsh profanities. Someone makes a rude hand gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink wine, beer and other hard liquor, such as tequila, scotch and brandy throughout the picture—at dinner, in hotel rooms, in the office, in a Mexican café and in the middle of a crowded street festival.

The Cannabax marijuana pill is at the center of the plot. A Mexican drug lord known as "Black Panther" wants a piece of the financial action on the drug. We never see anyone actually swallow cannabis pills, but someone steals a small prescription bottle of them.

Other Negative Elements

Drugs are sold illegally to a Mexican cartel. Various people backstab each other with manipulative actions. Someone tries to commit insurance fraud. Harold takes a large amount of money left behind by a dead man.

Conclusion

After finding himself pummeled by his bosses' moral lapses and illegal activities, then broadsided by his wife's infidelity, Harold reflects on his childhood. He ruminates on his father's admonitions to grow up to be a good, decent man. But Harold ultimately laments, "The world is upside down. … I don't think it pays anymore to be a good person."

The possibility of goodness in a corrupt world is the central theme here. Frankly, it's a solid idea to mull: Can decency persevere in this fallen world? Can you be good, devoted and upright when everything around you seems so lost and befouled?

Unfortunately, Gringo's answer is a blunt no.

And it's not really interested in that question anyway, as this dark comedy paints its supposed hero's south-of-the-border torments in crude and nasty brush strokes. While doing so, it ham-fistedly tries to get us to laugh about it all.

It fails.

In fact, on the way out the door from this Amazon Studio produced pic's screening I overheard another critic casually bemoan: "To think, my Prime shipping helped pay for that."

That was the funniest and most insightful moment of the whole evening.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

David Oyelowo as Harold Soyinka; Joel Edgerton as Richard Rusk; Charlize Theron as Elaine Markinson; Sharlto Copley as Mitch Rusk; Amanda Seyfried as Sunny; Thandie Newton as Bonnie Soyinka

Director

Nash Edgerton ( )

Distributor

Amazon Studios

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 9, 2018

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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