Miss Bala movie poster
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Miss Bala
Miss Bala movie poster

Miss Bala Movie Review

Available on Blu-ray and DVD on April 30, 2019 (Buy on Amazon)

There’s this movie called Miss Bala, a remake of the 2011 Mexican film called Miss Bala, about drug and weapon trafficking tied to a beauty pageant called Miss Baja, which in my infinite wisdom didn’t even realize was not Miss Bala until informed of it 24 hours later. It doesn’t really matter, though, because this new Miss Bala isn’t very good.

Gina Rodriguez stars as Gina Rodriguez and establishes that she probably isn’t cut out for gritty Latina action fare, or at least isn’t cut out for a pandering script that is more nonsensical than any of the filmmakers clearly realized while making it. After her friend disappears during a Tijuana nightclub shooting and she is forced to do criminal acts by a sort-of-sexy, sort-of-angry, certainly sociopathic drug lord named Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova), Rodriguez spends most of her time running around trying to act distressed.

For a while, director Catherine Hardwicke keeps you engaged just enough, making you think that this Miss Bala (note: I haven’t seen the original, though I hear it is quite different, thank God) might turn out to be a serviceable B-grade action thriller.

But false promises and false hopes lead to nothing but the Presidency of the United States and, yes, lame movies, and that is most certainly what Miss Bala is.

There’s the scene where Rodriguez goes to the night club and is immediately manhandled by a corrupt police officer—don’t even corrupt police officers wait a few minutes to get handsy, or are all Mexican men as sleazy as the Mexican movie stereotype? Then there’s the scene where Rodriguez starts a fire to distract her cartel captors—but couldn’t she have done what she wanted to do, and in less of a hurry, had she not started the fire? And what about where she gets entered in the Miss Bala—sorry, Miss Baja—competition just so she can get close to a target? Wouldn’t that target have been killed in the first 10 minutes of the movie had the cartel gunmen shot at him first instead of firing into the ceiling for no apparent reason? Or surely there is a better way to get to this man, who was just hanging out at a nightclub a few days earlier, without rigging a massive beauty contest?

And then there’s the whole ending and stuff involving the CIA that is just flabbergasting.

Miss Bala never reaches full eye-rolling levels of absurdity, which is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. Action movies have tried less and been more painful to watch, but Miss Bala is arguably worse, a movie that maybe is or maybe isn’t an action film with almost no action, little suspense, and a main character who is about as fun to watch as… well, a beauty pageant.

Once you realize that Miss Bala is deteriorating before your eyes, the movie becomes an exercise in patience and frustration, a dull, drawn out film that feels an hour longer than its otherwise reasonable runtime. Stay home, or just check out the original, but don’t bother with this bland attempt to capture Latino market share.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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