There is one thing that is an absolute given in 2019, if there is a movie that paints Mexico as anything other than a Disneyland Resort, the progressive media isn’t going to be a fan of it. It doesn’t matter if the film was based on a Mexican film that was based on a real-life event in 2011 because that was before Trump and we simply cannot have Trump be proven right on any level. Now with that said…it’s still January, the cinematic graveyard for releases so this film could simply be trash. Is it? Not Really, it just isn’t good.
Miss Bala is a film starring Gina Rodriguez as Gloria who is a makeup artist from Los Angeles, one day she decides to visit her best friend Suzu in Tijuana, Mexico (where all good things happen) and things go wrong almost immediately. Gloria and Suzu are caught up in a power struggle that turns deadly at a local nightclub leading to Gloria getting kidnapped and forced to work for a drug cartel. Things get even muddier when the DEA gets involved and now Gloria must not only find her missing friend but survive an international incident before death or prison becomes her only options.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing watching this film and I narrowed it down to two things. One, Gina Rodriguez is NOT a strong leading woman and second, the film loses all of its interest in the 3rd act. Not much of a spoiler but there is a scene where Gloria’s deal with the DEA falls apart and she returns back with the cartel and that’s where it hits you, you just watched the climax of the movie but the film is still going for like another 30 minutes. At that point, the 3rd act becomes so telegraphed that all suspense is gone because you know exactly what will happen and how it will end. I’ve watched a lot of Mexican thrillers over the years and this has to be one of the least threatening on-screen cartels I’ve ever seen, the PG-13 rating does not help the suspense here. BTW…Anthony Mackie is a glorified cameo, so I hope you weren’t looking forward to seeing too much of him.
Miss Bala isn’t a terrible film as it gets off to a decent start but it loses steam too quickly and proceeds to overstay it’s welcome. Gina Rodriguez simply isn’t ready to carry her own film and all the drama of a cartel you’ve seen before and done much better.