The business of marijuana is changing rapidly. While not too long ago, cannabis was illegal in all forms in the United States, acceptance of the drug is growing rapidly. Medical marijuana is now legal in 30 states; with eight of those states, plus Washington, D.C., taking that a step further with legal recreational marijuana. So as weed emerges from the criminal underworld and segues into a legitimate business, some weird stuff is expected to happen, which is exactly what the movie Gringo deals with. But is Gringo based on a true story?
The movie is not inspired by reality, despite how it may seem. The film's plot centers around a businessman named Harold Soyinka, played by David Oyelowo, who works for a company that has just developed a new highly effective pill form of medical marijuana. Harold is sent to Mexico to deliver the medication's formula to the lab where it's to be produced, but ends up being kidnapped by a drug cartel who loathe Harold's company because of previous dealings with them that went south. The story is wild, for sure, but it also seems somewhat plausible given what we know about the audacity of Mexican drug cartels, the cutthroat nature of the American pharmaceutical industry, and the constant progress being made in the field of medical marijuana. However, when it comes to the events seen in Gringo, they're all pure fiction.
In fact, the story on screen isn't even the same as what was originally written by screenwriters Anthony Tambakis and Matthew Stone. The main character, Harold, was conceived as a white American, and it wasn't until actor David Oyelowo met with director Nash Edgerton that the pair settled on turning him into a Nigerian immigrant. "I read the script, loved it, met with Nash Edgerton and managed to persuade him that I would be right for this," Oyelowo said in an interview with Parade's Walter Scott. "As we continued to play with it, I landed on the idea of playing him as a Nigerian immigrant, which just opened up so much of the story for us and really enabled us to go in all sorts of unexpected directions."
Although the film isn't based on an actual drug-related scandal/adventure, there have been plenty of movies made that are just that, so take a look below at some similarly-themed films whose plots really were ripped from the headlines.