Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Movie Review: "Miss Bala" (2019)

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Year: 2019
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

A makeup artist named Gloria heads to Tijuana to help her friend Suzu win a beauty pageant. After Gloria witnesses a shooting at a night club, she loses Suzu in the chaos. Gloria is then blackmailed by the gang leader who committed the shooting into helping him in exchange for finding her missing friend.

Miss Bala 2019 movie still Gina Rodriguez Ismael Cruz Cordova
"Sometimes you have to do terrible things to survive." (Image Source)
Cartel leaders can be charismatic, too! You just don't know them well enough!! Director Catherine Hardwicke has had a very storied career and is known for directing such films as "Thirteen" (2003), "Lords of Dogtown" (2005), and "Twilight" (2008). This time around, she helms "Miss Bala" (2019), an American remake of the of a 2011 Mexican film of the same name that was directed by Gerardo Naranjo. This version is written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and serves as his first feature-length writing credit. The story revolves around a Hollywood makeup artist named Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), who returns to her old stomping grounds, Tijuana, Mexico, to help her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) with a beauty pageant she is trying to win. That evening, Suzu takes Gloria to a nightclub where many pageant officials are known to hang out. She hopes to cozy up to some of them to improve her chances of victory. Gloria heads to the bathroom and witnesses a group of men breaking into the club carrying guns. They are targeting one of the pageant officials, who is actually a crime boss. In the turmoil of the shooting, Gloria and Suzu lose each other as the crowd scatters. Unable to locate Suzu, Gloria attempts to contact the police but winds up in the clutches of the very gang she witnessed shoot up the club. Gang leader Leno (Ismael Cruz Cordova) works a deal out with Gloria. He promises not to kill her and will help her find Suzu if she agrees to do a bunch of bad stuff for him first, leading her into a seemingly inescapable path into the criminal underworld.
Miss Bala 2019 movie still
"You're a nobody from nowhere from a broken home." (Image Source)
"Miss Bala" (2019) is such a simplistic, run-of-the-mill crime thriller that it's hard to find things to say about it that haven't already been written in another review on this site. It is the definition of mediocre. Luckily, Gina Rodriguez does a fine job with what she has been given to work with, and we just know that she is going to have a long career because she's clearly very talented. Rodriguez elevates this material and makes it better than it would have been without her. That said, the story itself is one we've seen many times. It is full of tropes, and characters often do stupid things whether it's "in the heat of the moment" or not. The script is riddled with cliches and isn't exceedingly enthralling. We found ourselves a bit bored while watching this film, though it isn't an overall painful watch. There are occasional moments of tension because Gloria is in constant danger of losing her life. There is a little action from time to time in the form of shootouts between cops and the gang, and between the gang and other rival gangs as well. The dialogue frequently waffles back and forth between basic and cringy, especially since the big question everybody asks, "what about Suzu?!,"  is asked repeatedly for almost two hours. Gloria certainly goes through a lot of hell to try and find her friend.
Miss Bala 2019 movie still Anthony Mackie Gina Rodriguez
"No one's coming to save you." (Image Source)
The biggest problem with "Miss Bala" (2019) is that it is completely forgettable. It isn't a movie that will be declared one of the worst of the year. We're not angry that we saw it. It is just one of those movies that, come year's end, we may even forget we even saw. As sad as it is to admit because we like Gina Rodriguez as an actor, one day in the not-too-distant future, we will be browsing the internet or perusing some streaming service and see the poster for this flick and think to ourselves, "oh yeah, "Miss Bala" (2019) is a movie that existed!"

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.3/10
RT Rating: ~22%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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