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Miss Bala is a misfire

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. She decides to take a vacation to her home of Tijuana, Mexico, to help her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodeo) 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 shooters 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 quality action set pieces, a couple of funny one-liners, and some decent acting. The film's key issues lie in writers 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. Miss Bala isn't a fun big screen experience, and I checked my watch numerous times. With the film being director Catherine Hardwicke's eighth film, I expected a bit more. Granted, Hardwicke has never directed a genre film 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 Gloria Fuentes have good chemistry.

If Miss Bala had chosen to have its narrative focus on Lino and Gloria using the Stockholm syndrome as a plot device. In that case, the final product might 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 hope to see more of him in the future.

It's crystal clear the studio intends 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. Furthermore, the film has one of the worst false advertising castings in recent memory. Anthony Mackie is prominent in the trailer, but he only has two five minute scenes. With its slow pace and ridiculous plot, Miss Bala is a misfire.

Final Grade : D

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