03rd May2019

‘Miss Bala’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Gina Rodriguez, Anthony Mackie, Thomas Dekker, Vivian Chan, Barbarella Pardo, Cristina Rodlo, Sebastián Cano, Damián Alcázar, Ricardo Abarca, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Erick Delgadillo, Mikhail Plata | Written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer | Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

miss-bala-poster

Miss Bala is the English language remake of the Mexican film of the same name, released in 2011, directed by Gerardo Naranjo. The 2019 remake is directed by Catherine Hardwicke and features Jane the Virgin star, Gina Rodriguez as Gloria. A character who is caught up in a deadly game between gangland Mexico and US forces, who plant Gloria in the midst of gathering intel on the former or face prosecution in the US by the latter. Miss Bala for the most part, is an enjoyable little action/thriller. It’s never completely riveting or mesmerising in what it offers but sticks to what it knows with Hardwicke strong behind the wheel.

Performance wise it’s a mixed bag overall. Leading actress Rodriquez stretches her acting chops with an action-oriented role – after a string of comedies – participating in a few action spectacles along the way in the likes of both Deepwater Horizon and Annilatation, yet having to sit most of said action out, leaving it to the boys in the former. Not this time around, however, as Rodriquez excels in this type of role. It showcases her range from a dramatic standpoint with terrific screen presence, as well as her emotional retort to sequences that demand the most emotionally brutal of dedication, and with every question, she responds with a perfectly suited answer. The supporting does a decent job but unlike Rodriquez, nobody particular stands out in either talent or presence. Disappointing when you’re cast list entails the likes of star Anthony Mackie, who is basically a phantom ghost in this feature. He makes very little impact, especially concerning his characters thread, much like his bloated cameo in George Tillman Jr’s The Hate U Give it adds nothing but hollow confrontation.

The film is also slightly bland aesthetically speaking. The opening and end credits are straight out of a 2007 Jason Statham film and Miss Bala, at times, is strangely sold as one of these generic revenge thrillers, when in fact it has a lot more layers than it wants you to believe. The cinematography by Patrick Murguia is incredibly ordinary and bland, failing to convey a sense of style and therefore intrigue. The whole palette is flat in that regard and theirs no spark to be found in any form of production. The film also falls into a nosedive with its nonsensical climax with a few too many twists and turns that jump the shark, and sadly turn this into the exact thing it doesn’t want to be – a generic action thriller.

All in all, it comes across as if Sony just didn’t want to elevate this more so into anything more personal or profound. Leaving it in a state of constraint both financially and artistically, hoping the venture would make its money back on the DVD circuit like Taken achieved all the way back in 2008, but in a world of streaming it seems, that’s a massive gamble/risk to take. If anything, it also dampens that of Catherine Hardwicke; a director who’s shown so much promise with Thirteen and Twilight (yes, Twilight!) and with every new corner the studio system fails to back her, and sadly Miss Bala seems to once again reaffirm such.

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