Gina Rodriguez takes on a drug cartel in Columbia Pictures, Miss Bala from director Catherine Hardwicke. Gloria Fuentes (Rodriguez) is a make-up artist living in Los Angeles who takes a vacation to her home of Tijuana, Mexico to help her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) in a beauty pageant. One night the friends go to a nightclub where Suzu hopes to favor her odds in the beauty pageant by mingling with the judges.
However, when gunmen led by local kingpin Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova) sneak into the club to assassinate a rival, Suzu ends up kidnapped, and the girls become separated. Gloria escapes only to find herself used as a pawn in Lino’s evil deeds. Through a series of events, Gloria finds herself working not only for Lino but an incompetent DEA agent named Brian Reich (Matt Lauria). Will Gloria, be able to save her friend and play both sides without being found out? The trailers for the film pretty much can answer this question for you.
Miss Bala is an Americanized remake of 2011’s, same-titled Mexican film. While the original movie was a gritty R-rated film about drug mules and real-life scenarios, the remake is a watered down mess. Usually, when I go into a film like Miss Bala, I don’t expect too much, just some decent action set pieces, a couple of funny one-liners and some decent acting. The film’s key issues lie in writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer’s script. Towards the end of the film, there are two plot twists that even my ten-year-old son can see coming a mile away.
The script doesn’t successfully juggle action and drama and gives the actors very little to work with. Watching the film, I felt that the final product might have come across better on a streaming service or a cable network, as Miss Bala isn’t a fun big screen experience. With the film being director Catherine Hardwicke’s eighth film I expected a bit more. Granted, Hardwicke has never directed a genre pic, since she’s more known for her dramatic features, so I’ll give her a small pass. The scenes where Lino and Gloria are together are some of the film’s better moments. As Lino and Gloria, Ismael Cruz Cordova and Gina Rodriguezhave good chemistry.
If Miss Bala had chosen to have its narrative focus on Lino and Gloria by using the Stockholm syndrome as a plot device the final product may have come across better. While Lino is a bad man, Ismael Cruz Cordova sells the role very well. I wasn’t too familiar with his work, and hopefully, like Rodriguez, I see more of his work in the future.
It’s clear that the studios intend for Miss Bala to set up a franchise for Gina Rodriguez. Sadly, this isn’t the project to help the likable Rodriguez break out onto the big screen. With its slow pace, ridiculous plot and some of the worst stunt casting in the form of Anthony Mackie (heavily featured in the trailer, but he only has two five minute scenes), Miss Bala is a misfire.
Final Grade D