Miss Bala

First Hit: Although there’s a twist at every turn, it is predictable, but has enough of a twist at the end to make it interesting.

The film begins with Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) doing makeup for some fashion models in a Los Angeles fashion show. After the show, she gets in her car and heads to Tijuana Mexico to visit a close friend, whom she considers family. Suzu’s (Cristina Rodlo) family took Gloria in when she was small, and they spent their young years together. Gloria is headed there to help Suzu get ready for the Miss Baja California contest.

To introduce Gloria to Chief Saucedo (Damian Alcazar), who has some sway over who wins the contest, Suzu takes Gloria to a nightclub. What we also learn is that Saucedo is slowly taking over all the illegal trade that goes across the U.S – Mexico border. He’s attempting to take this unlawful business away from a gang called Las Estrellas.

Las Estrellas is led by Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova). To shut down the Chief’s attempt to take over the border trade business from Lino, the Las Estrellas gang steals into the nightclub and starts to shoot it up. In the process they kidnap Suzu.

Gloria spends the rest of the film trying to find and rescue her close friend.

The storyline takes Gloria through being captured and used by the DEA, Las Estrellas, and the CIA. It is how the story weaves its way through all this that makes the film both work and not work. There’s too many tricks, story twists, and plot turns.

One thing that wasn’t very believable was the apparent age difference between Gloria and Suzu. This difference made me wonder about how they were friends when they were young. I also thought the some of the scenes were overly staged.

Rodriguez was good as an intense person who wanted to find her friend. Rodlo was OK as Gloria’s friend. Cordova was OK as the heavy leader of the gang. Alcazar was appropriately manipulative and arrogant as the crooked police chief. Anthony Mackie was OK as the undercover agent. Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer wrote an overly trick-filled screenplay. I didn’t engage with all the twists and turns. Catherine Hardwicke did a reasonable job of directing through all the storylines. 

Overall: This was an overly complicated film, and it didn’t need to be.