MISS BALA (2019)

"Stuck Between Two Rocks and a Hard Place"

Quality:
Content: -2 Discretion advised for adults.
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

MISS BALA is an English language remake of a 2012 Mexican movie. Gina Rodriguez of TV’s JANE THE VIRGIN plays Gloria, a young makeup artist visiting her friend in Tijuana. There, Gloria gets mixed up in a war among a local drug lord and arms smuggler, the city’s corrupt sheriff and American drug enforcement agents. Gloria’s friend goes missing after the drug lord and his men shoot up a nightclub while unsuccessfully trying to assassinate the sheriff. Gloria gets kidnapped by the drug lord, who forces her to do some things for him in exchange for finding her friend. An American drug agent wants Gloria to help them stop the drug lord.

As Gloria, Gina Rodriguez comes into her own in MISS BALA. She’s totally believable. The rest of the movie is good but not outstanding. MISS BALA is a somewhat cleaned-up and more entertaining version of the Mexican movie. It has less objectionable content, and the worldview is more moral. That said, MISS BALA has some foul language, intense violence, innuendo, and moments that blur moral lines. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.

Content:

(B, C, AP, P, LL, VV, S, N, A, DD, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Solid moral worldview in story about a woman and her friend who are caught up in a war between the corrupt sheriff of Tijuana and a local drug lord and arms dealer, with American government agents working on the situation, includes some moral ambiguity, with some glimpses of statues of Jesus in Tijuana, including an image of Jesus on a gate at the local bull ring, so it’s clear that Jesus is part of the local culture, but nothing else comes of this content, plus some mixed content where one American government agent abandons his female informant during a big gunfight with the drug gang she was informing on (woman after that decides during the gunfight to save the life of the drug lord when his leg is wounded but later turns against him when he proves to be just as corrupt, devious and evil as she originally thought he was) but another American agent later helps the woman and her friend;

Foul Language:
12 obscenities (one “f” word), four light profanities and heroine vomits after she unintentionally gets a person killed;

Violence:
Intense violence with light blood in a few places includes three gun battles where people are shot and killed, drug gang blows up a U.S. drug enforcement safe house where three agents died, villain shot in chest, another villain is deliberately shot in leg by one person, and then another villain shoots him dead, heroine sets a stove burner on fire as a diversion, woman is falsely accused of betraying a drug gang, and she is shot dead off screen (the sound of the gunshot is heard), kidnapped woman is manhandled, and threats of violence against a kidnap victim;

Sex:
Some implied and light sexual behavior includes one character leaves a room with his girlfriend, and it’s implied they went off to fornicate, kidnapper forces woman to strip down to her bra and panties, but they’re interrupted before anything more occurs, kidnapper later forces woman to lie down next to him on bed, and he touches her thigh but nothing more happens, kidnapper begins to trust woman he kidnapped, and he touches her shoulder in a suggestive way while they’re sitting in a car, corrupt sheriff kidnaps women to sell them to the highest bidder later for a big party he holds annually, and there’s an image of the women posing in dresses while holding up numbered cards, but nothing further is shown, corrupt sheriff is shown grabbing heroine’s rear-end a couple times;

Nudity:
No explicit nudity, but heroine is forced to strip down to her bra and panties, but nothing further happens like that, and a few scenes show men with their shirts off;

Alcohol Use:
Brief alcohol use;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking, but there are light references to the drug trade in Tijuana which also seems part of an illegal arms trade operating across the border with the United States; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Strong miscellaneous immorality such as kidnapping, deceit, Mexican police officer hands woman off to local drug gang, one woman character is falsely accused of betraying the drug gang that kidnapped her a while ago, and it’s troubling when they then murder her off screen, some moral ambiguity when heroine has to employ newfound survival skills to save herself and her friend.

More Detail:

MISS BALA is an English language remake of a 2012 Mexican movie, where Gina Rodriguez of TV’s JANE THE VIRGIN stars as a young makeup artist visiting her friend in Tijuana and getting mixed up in a war between a local drug lord and arms smuggler and the corrupt police chief. MISS BALA is a somewhat cleaned-up version of the Mexican movie, with an excellent performance by Gina Rodriguez, but the movie’s positive elements are still marred by lots of foul language, intense violence and some moral ambiguity.

Miss Rodriuguez plays Gloria Fuentes, an Hispanic makeup artist living in Los Angeles who travels to Tijuana to help her friend, Susan, in the annual Miss Baja California beauty pageant.

As Gloria, Gina Rodriguez of TV’s JANE THE VIRGIN comes into her own in MISS BALA. She’s totally believable and particularly shines in the dialogue scenes, not just the action scenes. The rest of the cast is also good, but Ismael Cruz Cordova is especially good as the charismatic and complex but devious drug lord. The movie’s other above-the-line aspects are reasonably compelling but not particularly noteworthy.

Not only is MISS BALA more entertaining and less preachy than the original movie. It’s also a somewhat cleaned-up version of the 2012 Mexican movie. For example, the Mexican movie had a lot of “f” words, but the new movie only has one. Also, the Mexican movie had a depicted sex scene and brief explicit nudity, but the new movie doesn’t. Finally, the Mexican movie took a false humanist, liberal and even libertarian position against any attempt to enforce the war against illegal drugs and against making any attempt to regulate the production and distribution of mind-altering drugs. The new movie acknowledges that police corruption can blur the lines between the criminals and the police. It also shows that the local drug lord, Lino, has a complex character where his good traits have been corrupted by his sinful nature, his corrupt surroundings and his selfish survival instincts. Gloria has some strong survival instincts herself, but she’s also motivated by her desire to save her friend and protect her friend’s younger brother, as well as her stronger sense of what’s right and wrong. In the end, she makes decisions where she rejects the moral corruption that’s infected both Lino and his nemesis, the corrupt police chief.

That said, MISS BALA still has some foul language, intense violence, innuendo, and moments that blur some moral lines. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.

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