Spoiler Scope: The final part of the review discusses some end of movies spoilers. This section is separated by a photo.
Summary: What might have been a generic but well done action thriller, was spoiled by an annoying attempt to be profound.
This movie annoyed me enough to write a review of it.
The movie is a fairly generic gritty, the-lines-of-morality-are-blurred action thriller. Think the Mexican Drug War version of Training Day.
The movie does a good job of it’s gritty tone. The violence is quick and explicit – enough to be shocking and realistic and factual, but not dwelling on it enough to be gratuitous.
It features images of bodies hanging from over bridges, which is something that happens in real life and the movie is effective in raising awareness of a war on the United States border that kills more than 10,000 people every year.
However, the plot is not particularly believable, and it uses the Mexican Drug War plot more as a vehicle for creating it’s tone, rather than being a serious thought provoking thriller.
While watching this movie, I was thinking that I was happy enough to have watched the movie and not write a review.
Spoilers past this point.
The last five minutes spoiled it for me.
After having gotten revenge by murdering the cartel leader and his family, the sympathisable bad guy finds our female protagonist in a motel room and forces her at gun point to sign a document saying that everything was done by the book, meaning he’ll get away with it.
This is one of the obvious plot devices in the film – the idea that this would work is absurd – the signature wouldn’t mean anything if after he left she immediately reported that she’d been coerced.
As he leaves out the parking lot, his back to her, she grabs her gun and points it at him. He turns, stares, she lowers it and he walks away.
The note the movie ends on is that the sole female character in the film is too weak to do the right thing.
The final scene shows a Mexican boy, who’s corrupt cop Mexican father we’ve seen be killed, play soccer with other kids. Some gunfire starts up in the background. They turn, listen for a bit, then resume playing.
These two scenes for me, turned the movie from a ‘don’t take this too seriously’ action thriller to a ‘we’re trying to make a profound point about the bleak and inevitable nature of this conflict and human weakness’. The way it’s done this is heavy handed and clumsy and comes across as forced.
The portrayal of the sole main female character annoyed me. The movie portrays her as a weak person who:
- Cries after she shoots someone
- Allows herself to be seduced by a cartel member hired to follow her.
- Can’t bring herself to apprehend the antagonist at the end of the movie.
I appreciate that having a weak female character in a movie might have its place. In this movie it seemed not to serve any purpose, except for again reenforcing the bleak outlook conclusion they were making.