Entertainment » Movies

Miss Bala

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday May 15, 2019
Miss Bala

What is it that is so beguiling about the action genre? It is a field filled with far more noise than actual substance. It seems especially odd considering that the action film is often forgiven so many of the typical critical trappings, most notably that of a coherent plot. Often, if audiences are presented with an interesting premise, a well-drawn lead character, and relentlessly engaging action, the rest can be forgiven. But despite all of this, the struggle for great action (that doesn't involve John Wick) continues.

This is made all the more complicated once the action heroine is introduced. For whatever reason, Hollywood throws their hands up in a state of hopelessness, unsure as to how to structure an action film when the lead character has breasts. Sure, you have some great entries like "Atomic Blonde" and "La Femme Nikita," but they are the exceptions. "Miss Bala" instead proves the rule.

Gloria is a young aspiring makeup artist whose world is about to be flipped. She heads to Tijuana to visit her friend Suzu and help her prepare for an upcoming beauty pageant. While out at a local nightclub a gang descends and transforms a night of fun into one of terror. In the mayhem, Gloria loses track of Suzu. Lost, scared, and trying to find her friend, Gloria is left with no other choice but to help the gangsters that got this all started.

"Miss Bala" positions itself as if it's going to be this fantastic actioner for Gina Rodriguez. She will be this empowered feminine pillar of strength that no man can stop. But once the film actually gets going, it becomes clear that this is nothing like what we were sold. Rodriguez's Gloria is a damsel in distress that is manipulated and used for nearly the entirety of the movie's runtime. This film for empowerment instead revels in gender stereotypes (not to mention the terrible Mexican stereotypes that rival that of "Peppermint," another disappointing female actioner). She is eventually given her moment of badassery, but her arrival there feels less than earned. It's a last minute switch that occurs in service to the film's plot rather than Gloria's own character development. Gina Rodriguez has proved her kickass credentials (or did you miss her in "Annihilation"), and she deserves better than this.

The Blu-ray release of "Miss Bala" is of two minds. One, driven by its director Catherine Hardwicke, in which a respectable attempt at interesting and legitimate special features is made; the other, the mindless fart of a major studio. That means that the majority of the features are brief and shallow (expect them to be around five minutes and to repeat themselves ad nauseum). But there are bright spots, wherein Hardwicke gives as much commentary as the limited runtimes of the features will allow. It makes for a release that is admirable in its efforts but can't help but feel disjointed. Which is oddly appropriate, since "Miss Bala" the film is largely a mess of mediocrity as well.

"Miss Bala"
Blu-ray + Digital HD

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