A Little Too Mild: Our Review of ‘Miss Bala’ (2018)

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 01, 2019
A Little Too Mild: Our Review of ‘Miss Bala’ (2018)

Second time isn’t always the charm…

In the long standing tradition of people generally not wanting to have to read subtitles, Miss Bala is a slick remake of the 2011 Mexican thriller of the same name that while not without some moments  holds a far too predictable line throughout the entire narrative.

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime and a local drug lord sees her as not only the perfect drug mule but way to expand his empire and eliminate his rivals. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness, and strength the likes of which she has never had to call on before.

Full disclosure…We’ve never seen the original film, for the moment that may make us bad cinephiles but we’ll take it.  Ultimately, while Miss Bala is an effective and well made film that won’t send you running for the exists, it all plays out in a really dull and expected fashion as there really isn’t any moment in the film that you can’t see telegraphed from a mile away.

Catherine Hardwicke is certainly a skilled directorial hand and she tells an effective story while handling the action and the drama of it well.  It looks pretty damn good, honestly better than expected so we really aren’t bored by anything that we see.

The script from Gareth Dunner-Alcocer, jumping from features to shorts for the very first time plays out exactly the way you think it will…and that’s the problem.  It’s a good story, but it’s one that’s been told before in a myriad of variations and this adaptation just doesn’t have a ton of nuance to it.  Other then the call to women to make sure they go into any all situations, this plays like a generic crime thriller from minute one as you can tell who is corrupt, who is honest, who is out of place and how every beat of the narrative will unfold.  It exudes a strong feminist message but wrapped up in a far too predictable package.

That being said, star Gina Rodriguez really kicks it into over drive on this one and elevates herself into the realm of someone who can legitimately carry a motion picture.  She brings us into the characters journey, from the stress filled moments crossing the border with drugs, money & guns to the moments where she realizes that she’s going to have to get a little messy in order to get out of this situation in one piece.  She exudes an explosive movie star charm as her character navigates these underworld situations, you aren’t expecting someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to come swooping in and save the day, rather he’s the guy in her ear with a backup SWAT team a half a kilometre away.

Anthony Mackie is more or less wasted in a very telegraphed role that will only make sense if they somehow manage to spin this into a moderate level budgeted action franchise while Ismael Cruz Cordova manages to create a charming ambiguity around his drug lord Lino who you know is horrible but has moments where you occasionally like him as well.

Ultimately, Miss Bala isn’t necessarily a bad movie, but it’s one where you were really hoping for something a little better then what we got.  It’s just a little too cookie cutter to resonate with audiences on any kind of meaningful level.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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