Miss Bala Review: Rodriguez’s action-packed leap is more like a stumble
Gina Rodriguez’s new action-packed leap feels much more like a stumble as Miss Bala never has anything for its audience to connect to and never leaves any sort of unique impression.
Based on the 2011 Spanish hit with the same name, the film follows Gloria (Rodriguez) as she is kidnapped by a prominent Mexican drug lord, Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova), after a night out in Tijuana with her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo). After she escapes for a brief moment, Gloria is also captured by a DEA agent (Matt Lauria) and now must be a mole in Lino’s operation or risk going to jail for a long time. Now stuck in the middle of a drug war, Gloria must find Suzu as well as the strength to escape with both their lives.
Miss Bala completely lacks any sort of action-heavy pulse as a lot of the film mainly focuses on Gloria trying to escape through some suspense filled sequences. Frankly, it’s tough to say what the film tries to be as it’s more action-heavy gun fight sequences don’t meld well with the more suspenseful moments of Gloria trying to escape and stay afloat as a mole. Either way, neither of them really work and it all leads to a viewing experience that’s mostly forgettable.
Even the performance from Rodriguez feels very muted and it feels like she just isn’t given much to do. Gloria is mostly shown to be more reserved and it makes it kind of tough to connect with her as a person. The only reason to really get behind Gloria is the situation she’s in rather than her thought’s and feelings on the situation and it leads to her being incredibly unmemorable.
Even the supporting cast is pretty wasted as their livelier personalities are either relegated to short scenes or are so underutilized that it begs the question of why they were in the film at all. The DEA are made out to be a seemingly strong part of the film, but their presence quickly dies out and you almost forget that they were in the film at all. Lino actually has some interesting moments, especially when he is talking about his cultural identity, but his actions make him so unlikable that viewers won’t care about his past at all.
All of this is honestly unfortunate as there was actually some promising and unique moments that Miss Bala shows that are just not fully developed. The idea of the film taking place within a beauty pageant would’ve actually been interesting and could’ve delivered on the suspense the film wants to deliver. It also could service for Rodriguez to play a stronger leading role and maybe even flex her some of her strong comedic muscles to bring a little more personality to her character. It would just been a unique concept to have the gangster plot mixed with the pageant aspects of Miss Bala and would have as least made it more memorable than the film that we are given.
Rodriguez seems like she is trying her best, but her effort just couldn’t stop Miss Bala from being the unmemorable and unimpressive film that it is. It struggles to decide what it wants to be and just can’t utilize some of its more promising parts. Instead of being empowering and bad-ass, like it clearly wants to be, Miss Bala ends up just being bad.