Gina Rodriguez is the action hero in this boring remake
“Miss Bala” is the Hollywood remake of the 2011 Spanish movie, which tried and failed to get an Oscar nomination. That movie was utterly amazing with its radiant performance from Stephanie Sigman, it’s strong patience, and its provocative thrills, all thanks to director Gerardo Naranjo.
The new version has elements different from the original, but this version is all “Taken” meets “Sicario,” and less patience and radiance.
Gina Rodriguez stars as Gloria, a make-up artist from LA, who arrives in Mexico to prepare her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) for the Miss Baja California pageant. Then, at a night club, gunmen attack, and Gloria escapes, but Suzu is nowhere to be found. When she tries to go to the police for help, the same gunmen, led by Lino (Ismael Cruz Córdova), kidnap her, and force her to park a car filled with explosives by a building, which turns out to be a DEA safe house. And the same gunmen land her a spot in the Miss Baja pageant.
She escapes through a bathroom, but gets caught by an obnoxious DEA agent (Matt Lauria), who threatens her with jail-time for the building explosion, unless she helps them infiltrate Lino’s organization. That’s one difference between the 2011 version and this one.
Another difference: instead of the main character, it’s Suzu who has a little brother (Sebastian Cano), and Gloria now has to protect him. And Lino promises not to hurt the kid, if she smuggles money to an arms dealer (Anthony Mackie) in San Diego. And that same dealer knows there’s a mole in the operation. We know she’s the mole.
Another difference: Lino’s house maid (Aislinn Derbez), who’s also a victim of his villainy, and ends up being wrongfully accused of being the mole.
And finally, when Lino teaches Gloria how to shoot, the final act has her playing the action hero.
“Miss Bala” is basically your standard run-of-the-mill remake that tries to be all cool and special, and ends up running out of ammo. It mostly has to feature shouting, shooting, and stress; while the original had less talking and more about the point-of-view of an innocent person. And if you have seen the original, you’ll find the first half to be predictable. I was exceedingly bored during that part.
I liked Gina Rodriguez’s performance as Gloria, because how she adapts from fear to anger. She doesn’t exceed Stephanie Sigman, but she still does what she can by being sexy and smart.
The original was rated R, while this version of PG-13, and this wants to be The Hollywood thriller with a happy ending. We all love happy endings, but the way this version handles it is just standard.