MISS BALA

Boring films are the worst kind because whether it be good or bad, a film should above all be memorable. Even if it’s marred by poor acting, direction, and everything else, that can all potentially make for an entertaining and memorable experience. Those are the best kinds of awful films. Films like Batman & Robin and The Room, which are infinitely quotable and ripe for analysis of their awfulness. They’re no doubt terrible, but we remember them, and it’s why they become “classics” among bad movie aficionados. Sometimes, though, the filmmaking is just so bland and by the numbers, and the storyline so predictable, that it starts drifting from your memory the moment you leave the theater. 

Miss Bala follows Gloria Fuentes (Gina Rodriguez), a makeup and hair stylist living in Los Angeles. To prepare her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) for a big beauty pageant in Mexico, she visits her in Tijuana. When they go out for a night of partying, a drug cartel unfortunately shoots up the place, attempting to assassinate a corrupt police chief. Gloria survives, but realizes Suzu has disappeared. Desperate to find her friend, a series of stupid decisions finds Gloria involved with the same cartel, looking for any way to rescue Suzu and escape this situation. 

Well, here we are, with the final January film and they saved the most boring one for last. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time it felt like a movie was slowly administering me anesthesia. It’s about as bland and cookie-cutter as they come, which is fitting coming from Sony Pictures. It starts off with a generic opening credits sequence featuring skyline shots of California edited to whatever the popular pop song is these days. This is a remake of the 2012 Mexican film of the same name, but that’s no excuse for the sheer lack of originality or passion. I haven’t seen the original film, but from my research, it seems more dramatic, as opposed to the more “action” oriented story we get here. There’s really one legitimate action sequence and it’s sloppily shot and edited. Even worse, it ends up being completely pointless, just further dragging out this tedious film. 

The biggest reason everything is so predictable is because our protagonist Gloria is an absolute moron. Starting from her first mistake of going to Mexico in the first place, she consistently makes the worst decisions possible, which lands her in more and more trouble. I was never sure how much time this was supposed to take place over, but she finds herself tangled up with the DEA, and becoming the lover to Lino Esparaza, the leader of the cartel she gets mixed up with. Because she was so dumb, every turn in the plot is totally predictable and can easily be telegraphed. She’s not the only dumb character either, being surrounded by idiots, especially Lino, who clearly can’t see how suspicious she always acts. From director Catherine Hardwicke, whose biggest hit was Twilight, the forced romance feels incredibly phony and pointless, especially as you know exactly how it’s going to play out. 

I was at least happy that Hardwicke and screenwriter Gareth Dunnett-Alcocer didn’t attempt to make you sympathize with the cartel members, or really anybody except Gloria, for that matter. It almost seemed like they were going to at first, but she’s really the only sympathetic and relatable character, with even the DEA and CIA given equal treatment in the corruption and violence department. The CIA is simply there to offer up some absurdly silly sequel bait, which I hope never happens, if only because Gina Rodriguez is a more than capable actress who clearly deserves to be in better things. Her decent charisma and range totally carry the movie and with a lesser actress, we would have been in for a much worse time. She’s a good actress, but she doesn’t have the makings of an action star, with the hilariously embarrassing shots of Hardwicke trying to make Rodriguez look cool and threatening. It just doesn’t jive with her look or her character’s journey, although I appreciated how she was kind of bumbling in the scenes, showing how incapable she really was. 

When Miss Bala was over, I looked to my friend and said, “This was the most boring movie I’ve ever seen.” While this was obviously an exaggeration, I was so checked out of this by the second act that I was just waiting for it to be over. I spent a majority of the time half-lying down in my seat, totally disengaged from the predictable storyline and lack of exciting action. While Replicas was hilariously awful, and Serenity was entertainingly absurd, Miss Bala was just boring and by the time I do my end of the year write up for 2019, I’ll probably have forgotten it even existed at all. 

4/10

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