Movie Review Monday: Miss Bala
Only a few new releases hit theaters over the weekend, and one of those was the action thriller, Miss Bala. A remake of the 2011 Mexican film of the same name, the movie was directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Gareth Dunnett-Alcocer. The story follows a woman who is entangled with a Mexican drug cartel after her friend is kidnapped. Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez stars as the main character, Gloria Fuentes, with Ismael Cruz Córdova playing the drug cartel leader, Lino. The supporting cast also includes Anthony Mackie, Aislinn Derbez, Matt Lauria, Cristina Rodlo, and Ricardo Abarca.
The film begins with make-up artist Gloria Fuentes making her way to a fashion event in Los Angeles. After she is through with the event, she drives to Tijuana, Mexico to meet up with her best friend, Suzu. Suzu is participating in the Miss Baja California pageant, and Gloria intends on helping her prepare for the event. They go to a club that night for Suzu to impress the Chief of Police and hopefully gain an advantage for the competition. However, armed men enter the club and unsuccessfully try to kill the police chief. In the chaos of the event, Suzu and other women are abducted, and Gloria is left alone. She tries to receive help from a cop the following morning, but instead finds herself captured by the armed men from the club. She is told by the leader of the gang that if she helps them, they will find her friend, which is where the story truly begins.
So, I cannot really compare this movie to the original because I never watched it. However, I will say that this iteration of the material unfortunately makes Miss Bala a fairly forgettable film. There are some commendable performances, but for a film that’s labeled as an action thriller, it suffers from long gaps between action sequences and extremely predictable story developments. There is a lot packed into what is a fairly short movie, which messes with the pacing. Also, there are some B-movie elements present throughout with a few cringeworthy pieces of dialogue and the cliche’ slow motion action sequences.
I know that I am picking on this film more than I normally would, but there were some redemptive parts to the movie. I think that this is a solid performance from Gina Rodriguez. I think she proves that she can handle the demands of an action film, and she does deliver on the fear and panic that accompanies her character’s journey. I think they include way too many close ups of her face during these moments, but Rodriguez’s performance is solid. Also, I think that the film tries to focus on the different worlds that the character of Gloria finds herself in. Each of them are dominated by men and go into how easily she and the other women are dismissed. This was an appropriate thread to run through the film, and I think it’s used well to push Gloria to the realization that her best chance is to save herself.
Even with these few redemptive qualities, I think that Miss Bala really does fall short. It truly is undone by the predictable story beats and long gaps between action pieces. There are some nitpicky things that were frustrating like how quickly she can accurately shoot a target when she’s clearly never shot anything before this moment. Also, it kind of irritates me that Anthony Mackie has pretty high billing and is in the movie for maybe five minutes. Overall, I would say that Miss Bala has its mildly entertaining moments, but I would not recommend a trip to the theater for this one.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.