Saturday, February 2, 2019

Miss Bala - Review

The latest Hollywood remake of an exceptional foreign film joins a list that one does not want to be a part of. While it’s hard to justify its existence in the first place, Miss Bala tries very little to convince audience members it deserves their money or their praise. It may be the first film of February, but this certainly features all the monikers of a January film.

Gloria Meyer (Gina Rodriguez), who is a Latin-American makeup artist from Los Angeles, visits her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) in Tijuana, Mexico. But then Suzu suddenly disappears at a nightclub. In the process of searching for her, Gloria gets kidnapped and is forced to smuggle drug money for a local cartel. Gradually, she works her way into the good graces of their leader as well as the DEA enforcement, which also takes part in this case. Gloria must then turn the tables on everyone to escape and finds a power she never knew she had.

The one potential saving grace for Miss Bala is Gina Rodriguez. The actress is incredibly likable no matter the role, even if the film around is remarkable dull or painfully obvious, and sometimes both at once. And while the film seems to believe the strange relationship between Rodriguez’s Gloria and Lino Esparaza, played by Ismael Cruz Cordova, is a fascinating dynamic, it winds up being the most groan worthy element amongst plenty of clichéd issues.

It’s as if someone saw the original and wanted to boil it down to the bare minimum, expanding its appeal to mass audiences at the same time. Take out any nuance or subtlety and replace it with tropes or clichés from just about every 21st century action thriller and you’ve got Miss Bala. The writing is absolutely abysmal, almost as if they started with the image of Gina Rodriguez in a gown lugging around a large rifle and attempted to work backwards from there.

Miss Bala feels like a sanitized and simplified version of a story told in various and much better ways. While the original achieved a balance of real-life themes and well-done action, this somewhat soulless take falters too much to justify its existence. Gina Rodriguez is solid in the leading role, but most of that can be traced directly to her inherent charm and ability rather than the film actually providing something worthy of her talents. If you’re really itching for an action film in 2019, it’s probably best to just wait a few more weeks, anything will be better than this.

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