By ARIA SALESSI
Who would you become to save your family?
Miss Bala is a drama/thriller, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and released on February 1, 2019. Starring Gina Rodriguez, known for her role in Jane the Virgin, the remake of the 2011 film follows Gloria, a struggling makeup artist as she travels to Tijuana, Mexico to meet her friend Suzu. The two friends decide to go to a bar, which unfortunately becomes the target of a cartel’s shooting. Gloria gets captured by the gang members and discovers that she is going to have to do whatever her kidnappers say to save her friend.
From the beginning, I knew how Miss Bala was going to play out: a young woman gets captured and turns the table on her kidnappers. This is exactly what happened in the film, except Miss Bala did it quite differently from the usually generic drug cartel film. One aspect of the film I enjoyed was how Rodriguez didn’t turn into an unrealistic superhero towards the end of the film. This trope can be found in films like Peppermint, Mile 22 and The Foreigner. Throughout these films, the protagonists go from a normal civilian to some overpowered assassin. Fortunately, Miss Bala sways away from this action movie cliche and gives us a much more realistic and relatable character.
Another thing I appreciated about Miss Bala was how fast-paced it was. Within the first ten minutes of the film, Gloria was already in the middle of a bar shooting. Hardwicke made a great decision by not flooding the exposition of the film with unnecessary dialogue, which usually occurs in many action films.
The best part of the film to me was Rodriguez’s acting. Her acting was so astounding and realistic, especially during moments of peril, that it felt like the film wasn’t good enough for her. She truly felt like she put her hardest effort during these scenes. One of the most breathtaking moments where her acting shined was during the bar shooting. During this, her breathing was heavy and she seemed genuinely confused and scared. After watching this film, I truly couldn’t see anyone else playing her role.
Miss Bala had a budget of $15 million and made $6.7 million on its opening weekend, which is quite tragic. Not only did it have low box office numbers, but it also had a Rotten Tomato score of 26%. In a review on Associated Press, Jocelyn Noveck said, “Rodriguez and her fans deserve better than Miss Bala, a disappointingly bland and formulaic Hollywood remake of a much grittier and bleaker Mexican thriller.”
Miss Bala may not be the most unique film in the drug cartel genre, but with its fast pace and Rodriguez’s powerful acting, Miss Bala manages to entertain and stand out from the rest of the films in its genre.