Natalie Schroeder | Staff Writer
Action-thriller Miss Bala premiered this month, up against many other highly-anticipated films. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, Miss Bala is a remake of the 2011 Mexican film of the same name. The film follows a Latin-American woman named Gloria Fuentes (Gina Rodriguez) as she visits her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) in Tijuana, Mexico to help her prepare for a pageant. Because this is a remake, the plot remains relatively similar to the original — while Gloria and Suzu have downtime, they head to a club where things go awry rather quickly.
As the Las Estrellas gang opens fire in the club, Suzu and Gloria get separated, which forces Gloria to seek help from the police since she saw what these men looked like. However, the police officer informs the gang instead, and Gloria is abducted.
After being separated from Suzu, Gloria consistently has one goal: To find Suzu and take her back home to her family. From the heartbreaking separation to the happy reunion, many people are caught in the crosshairs between the police and the Las Estrellas gang.
Being a character that needs to survive in order to find Suzu, the decisions she makes in order to stay alive are bound to get someone else killed eventually. While Gloria performs the tasks she is told to do by the gang, she is pulled aside by the DEA that agrees to help her if she helps them catch Lino Esparza (Ismael Cruz Cordova), the gang’s leader.
Because Lino is smart, he switches out untraceable phones. During one clean up, Gloria moves the bug from her phone into someone else’s without knowing who it belongs to. Gloria has survival on the brain, but cannot keep her emotions at bay when her decisions get people killed. Scenes that show the emotional turmoil that Gloria goes through helps the audience empathize with her and root for her.
Rodriguez has a solid performance from opening to closing credits, which saves the movie from being boring and one dimensional. While they take an innocent young woman and throw her into a world full of guns and drugs, Gloria never has an unrealistic transformation from never holding a gun to a ruthless killer — everything Gloria succeeds in is fueled by her need to survive.
Another performance that saved the movie was that of Ismael Cruz Cordova. The scenes where Rodriguez and Cruz Cordova share the screen were enough to make an audience root for Gloria while also being interested in learning more about Lino.
The movie, from start to finish, was an interesting story with a likeable main character. Even though it got low ratings from critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes, a majority of viewers found it enjoyable. Perhaps because this movie showcases a story that has been told many times before, it has earned a low rating, but the performances by the cast allow the film to be fun and interesting. The movie itself is saved by the writers because the main character never makes dumb decisions that would make an audience groan. The suspense that the audience feels and the near-death situations that Gloria experiences are enough to earn its action thriller category placement. With solid performances from Rodriguez and Cruz Cordova, Miss Bala is easily welcome into a movie night with friends.