review by Bobby Blakey
It’s been great seeing more diverse casts in films during the last couple of years with more people of all races getting to headline films across all genres. The latest Miss Bala is a remake of the 2011 Spanish Language film of the same name this time starring Gina Rodriguez, Isamel Cruz Cordova, Ricardo Abarca, Christina Rodlo, Anthony Mackie, and Matt Laurie with Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke at the helm. Could this be yet another feature showcasing a strong female presence that delivers or will it fail to make the drop?
Miss Bala follows Gloria, a makeup artist from Los Angeles, who visits her best friend Suzu in Tijuana, Mexico. While at a club the two are thrust into an apparent hit and in chaos Suzu disappears. While trying to find her, Gloria is kidnapped and forced to smuggle drug money for a local cartel as well in the sights of the DEA. Now she must turn the tables on everyone to escape and finds a power she never knew she had as she navigates a dangerous world of cross-border crime. For whatever reason the trailer to this movie peeked my interest and while it wasn’t as action heavy as I had hoped it still managed to deliver a great story.
Films like this are always hit and miss with the typical direction making the female lead somehow becoming a badass in a short amount of time. Here while the actions do change Gloria it holds a grasp on reality only having her do what she can to survive. There are elements to the set up that didn’t feel overly necessary and made the opening moments feel sluggish for me, but once it gets to the meat of it all I was all in. The cast are all great but it’s Gina Rodriguez who carries this entire film to perfection. She brings a strong presence to the role that while scared and emotional never feels weak. They allowed her characters empowerment to grow in a realistic way as it progressed making you believe and understand her decisions.
There are some predictable elements to the film and the twist here wasn’t overly surprising, but it still worked. Rodriguez’s chemistry with co-star Isamel Cruz Cordova is important for this film to work with it evolving into numerous directions and all work. Though there wasn’t the action I hoped for here there are some big action set pieces that work great although they are pretty standard. The gritty tone to it all matches the locations and world that they are waving through and helps to make it stand out.
I not only enjoyed this film and hope to see Rodriguez take on more like this it makes me even more interested to go track down the original. They have a satisfying ending here, but also one that could offer up some more stories that could be told despite not being necessary.
In addition to the film this release includes bonus content including deleted & extended scenes, commentary, featurettes and more. Grab your copy of Miss Bala available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Home Entertainment.