Coming to Bluray and Digital from director Catherine Hardwicke and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment comes a thriller that starts with MISS BALA.
Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) is preparing to drive to Tijuana, Mexico to watch her best friend Suzu (Cristina Rodio) compete in the Miss Baja beauty pageant. Before the festivities begin, Gloria and Suzu take a night out to dance and have a few drinks. That idea is short lived when out of nowhere gunmen break into the nightclub and try to grab Gloria but she escapes.
The next morning she can’t find Suzu and begins making telephone calls. Going to the police turns into a detour when she discovers that her friend was taken by the Las Estrellas gang. Let by Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova), he agrees to help her get Suzu back if, and only if, Gloria agrees to work for them.
That entails driving explosives that blow up a building, driving drugs and guns across the boarder and leading the DEA to Las Estrellas. In the meantime, Lino takes a liking to Gloria and shows her how to defend herself should the need arise again. No one around her, especially Poyo (Ricardo Abarca) seems to trust her but Lino and meeting Isabella (Aislinn Derbez), Gloria sees what happens to women they take.
The plans are about to get even more dangerous when Lino tells Gloria that he wants her to enter the Miss Baja pageant because it will lead him to the real target – the Mexican Chief of Police Saucedo (Damian Alcazar). Agreeing to let Gloria see Suzu, it is all a set up for the shootout that is going to change who is taking who.
Never point a weapon unless you intent to use it!
Rodriguez as Gloria puts in a stellar performance of a woman trapped in a web not of her own making. She takes her character into a place where it is safer to pay attention to even the smallest of details because they will come in handy later. Each step she takes brings her closer to even more danger but she can’t exactly step back either. When Rodriguez finally gets to let her character loose, she still keeps it together and stays one step ahead of who ever is trying to stop her. I like that about this character and Rodriguez’s portrayal.
Cordova as Lino is a smooth talking gangster who uses fear as a way to control Gloria. Even with the charm he is as ruthless as anyone can imagine. His character doesn’t get loud, doesn’t get physical but instead lets his weapon do the talking for him. There is no hesitation in distrusting anyone but there is a chink in his armor when it comes to Gloria.
Abarca as Poyo is a character you just can’t stand from minute one. As one of Lino’s “trusted” men, he keeps an eye on Gloria and tries to get Lino to turn on her every chance he gets. He definitely plays a bad guy you like to dislike immensely. Rodio as Suzu is used just as one would expect of a kidnapped woman and Gloria is determined to find her. Derbez as Isabella is also a kept woman who lives in as much fear as Gloria and manages to keep it under control doing what she is told when she is told, that’s survival.
Other cast include: Erick Urbina as Tucan, Mikhail Plata as Chivo, Jorge Mardueno as Ortiz, Lilian Robles as Dona Rosita, Oscar Estrada as Owl Man and Matt Lauria as DEA Agent Brian Reich.
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The Bonus Materials Include: Eight Deleted Scenes & Extended Scenes, Three Features including – Gina: The Unstoppable Strength of a Woman, The Bigger the Bang: Action on the Set and Making of MISS BALA, A Look into the Stunts and Costumes with Catherine Hardwicke and Feature Commentary with Director Catherine Hardwick, Executive Producer Jamie Marshall and Associate Producer Shayda Frost.
MISS BALA is a thriller that works its way into the final scenes. It allows the viewer to experience Gloria’s journey step by step and what she must do to survive. Rodriguez also has the opportunity to share her views about her role playing a strong Latina woman and having a cast and crew that is 93% Latino led.
The story weaves its way through Gloria’s smarts and Rodriguez truly does make the tale complete. I enjoyed every aspect of the film and can see how it could be possible to make more of them with the help of Jimmy played by Anthony Mackie. We shall see!
Anyone who lives in the San Diego area will recognize quite readily the scenes both in Mexico and across the United States border. I have to say that’s almost a bonus for me as I know exactly where most of those locations are – it’s a fun bonus.
In the end – who would you become to save your family?