Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Review: Gina Rodriguez saves 'Miss Bala'

Movie: "Miss Bala"

Release Date: Feb. 1, 2019

Run Time: 1 hour 44 mins

Rating: C

Director Catherine Hardwicke, mostly known for directing the first installment of the “Twilight” franchise, took on the film "Miss Bala" alongside lead actress Gina Rodriguez. Rodriguez plays Gloria, a struggling makeup artist who visits her friend, Suzu, played by Cristina Rodlo, in Tijuana. Suzu is an aspiring beauty queen who enters the Miss Baja pageant, something she has been dreaming of for most of her adult career. While at a nightclub on the night of Gloria’s arrival, a gang attacks, resulting in multiple fatalities, the disappearance of Suzu and Gloria’s abrupt initiation into a gang against her will. Gloria finds herself viewed as a weapon by gang leader Lino, played by Ismael Cruz Córdova, and must rely purely on her own determination to get herself out. Throughout the film, Gloria’s loyalty is tested, often finding herself in a crossfire between her American pride and Mexican roots, an internal conflict that plays a key part in her development.

“Miss Bala” is a remake of director Gerardo Naranjo’s 2011 film of the same name. The Mexican film only received 6.5 out of 10 stars on IMDb, raising the question of why a film with only a decent rating was deserving of an American remake in the first place. As of Feb. 5, the ratings for the 2019 version are even lower, sitting at 5 out of 10 stars for just the opening weekend. On top of the original film’s mediocre rating, remakes of films tend to sit negatively with viewers, such as the modification of notorious horror film “Carrie” or the 2011 rendition of the 1984 classic “Footloose.”

Hardwicke provided viewers with an edge-of-your-seat action-packed film but failed to initiate a solid enough ending to satisfy the audience. In addition, the plot twists were predictable and did not add enough substance to the film. For a character who went from not having a backbone to being a beauty guru to becoming a strong-willed survivor, the development of Gloria was not sufficed in the end but rather drowned out by other events that did not feel necessary. For a good portion of the film, it almost felt like a romance was beginning to brew between Gloria and Lino, the man holding her hostage. This might have been a tool for Gloria’s newfound power, but it was unclear if her feelings toward him were real or a means of survival. In a film like this, an unsatisfying plot seems almost excusable with how much action there was throughout the movie. However, it was hard to overlook the weak ending. Rodriguez’s portrayal of Gloria seemed to be the only thing that kept the film from completely going off the deep end.

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