Miss Bala (2011)

To prepare you for the new version, here’s my review of the 2011 original.

“Miss Bala” is based on the true story about a model, who was involved with drug trafficking scandal in 2008, and was then released, because no evidence of her criminal activity was found. Director Gerardo Naranjo, who met the model, Laura Zuniga, made this movie, reflecting on “the point-of-view of an innocent person.”

As the film begins, a young woman named Laura Guerrero (Stephanie Sigman) and her friend Suzu (Lakshmi Picazo) both enter the Miss Baja beauty contest. The night before rehearsal, they go to a night club, where gunman break in and attack. Laura escapes, but Suzu is gone.

When she tries to go to the police for help, the same gunmen, led by Nino (Noe Hernandez), abduct her, and force her to drive and park a car, which happens to blow up an embassy building. They give her a dark phone, which gets taken by a DEA agent (José Yenque). So, Nino forces Laura to run a few errands in exchange for her family’s safety. She has to transport money across the US Order, and to find the DEA Agent.

The only decent thing the gang leader does is help make sure Laura has her place in the Miss Baja contest. She knows the representatives were forced to let her enter, and even win. This is not how she wanted to win.

“Miss Bala” is thrilling and provocative, thanks to Naranjo’s guidance and Sigman’s performance. The director is able to deal with the girl’s turmoil, challenges, and goals, while representing this true story. As a matter of fact, he has a lot of patience with both the crimes and beauty pageant. And Sigman is filled with such radiant life. Her character is both scared for herself and her family; and yet, at the same time, she keeps her emotions in check. These two have chemistry.

The thrills include the first shoot-out scene, the criminals taping money on her stomach, and practically, every scene when she gets in the car with them. Those moments, among many others, keep you at the edge of your seat, and there is no irritation, whatsoever. When it comes to foreign-language films, they’re given patience, personas, and ambition; and that’s exactly what “Miss Bala” has.

It may be a little dark to see at night, but it’s still refreshing to watch a thriller without all that Hollywood noise and commercial endorsements. In fact, it nearly got an Oscar nomination.

⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

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