Miss Bala

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Thomas Dekker, Vivian Chan

Release Date: February 1, 2019

Miss Bala is a remake of a Spanish-Language film by the same name. This iteration stars Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation) as Gloria (aka Miss Bala), a make-up artist in LA who goes to visit her longtime friend, Zuzu, in Mexico. The two go out to a nightclub to attempt to network for Zuzu’s modeling career. While out, they are caught in the crossfire of a failed Cartel assassination. During the shootout Zuzu goes missing and Gloria now has to play both sides of the DEA and cartel to get her friend back.

The story is supposed to be the classic “undercover informant who must carefully work both sides while pushing their own agenda without being caught.” It’s a narrative that has been beaten to death and Miss Bala really fumbles it. She is brought into the inner circle of the gang rather quickly. It’s incredibly unclear as to why the gang has any interest in keeping her around as she brings nothing to the table for them other than the fact that the leader has a giant creepy crush on her. Even though it’s clear that she is being held against her will, the DEA makes her think that she is culpable and makes her an informant. All of this is fucking stupid. Lazy writing, terrible story telling.

Her whole motive as she says almost 500 times in the movie is “just looking for [her] friend.” Gloria seems incredibly helpless throughout the film. The movie is marketed as the story of a girl who is forced into a difficult situation, and through the pressure, grows into a badass. Given the title of the movie, Miss Bala or “Miss Bullet” in English, you’re just waiting for her to channel her inner Lara Croft and really mess up some Cartel dudes. This however *spoiler* never happens. Miss Bullet is taught how to shoot an AR-15 like she’s never seen a gun in her life which is fine but I think she shoots six bullets tops, during the movie’s climax.

This film features some really trash editing. I figured going into this movie that if it sucks at least I’ll get to see some half-way decent action scenes. The first action we get comes pretty quick, maybe 20 minutes in, when a Mexican Cartel breaks into the club where Gloria and her friend Zuzu are partying. They break in through A/C vents which would make sense if this were a stealth operation but as soon as they enter the building they bust out the machine guns and clear the place out. During this shootout it’s very unclear as to who or what the villains are shooting at. The scene is edited incoherently, constantly cutting to Gloria and getting only glances of the shooting. It jumps around in a way that will give anyone a mild headache. We see Gloria taking cover and then frantically looking for Zuzu while the gangsters are aimlessly emptying their clips into the bar.

Miss Bala finished third in the box office ratings in its opening weekend. Even in a slower movie season the movie is not worth your time. Maybe the original was better? I have to assume so since someone decided to remake it. Terrible storytelling, editing, and performances all around this one is painful to watch.

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