I saw this movie because I’ve developed into quite a Gina Rodriguez fan and after seeing her surprising performance in Annihilation, I was curious to see her take the lead in a straight up action film. Well, to just sum it up most simply, she’s a lot better than the movie deserves. She’s an American who travels to Mexico to help an old friend compete in a beauty contest; when her friend disappears, she finds herself making a devil’s bargain with the only people who might be able to help: a rival cartel of the cartel that has kidnapped her friend. The action is pedestrian. It’s not the annoying, nausea inducing shaky cam of a lot of modern action movies, but neither does it, you know, bring anything new to the table. The script is pretty predictable, your typical “she just keeps getting in deeper!” story. Rodriguez is able to make things feel a little more dangerous than they otherwise might just in terms of her performance. The film is rated PG-13 which makes it feel a little neutered in terms of how intense they’re able to be with the violence and there are a couple of moments at the climax of the film where I’m pretty sure they whiffed on really turning the main character into a total badass because they have to pull back on a couple of things they could have her do. There’s a moment, when she’s finally gotten a gun, that you’re just really pulling for her to finish off a guy that’s wounded but the movie just has her step over him and I bet that was a ratings thing. There are a couple of good supporting performances, particularly Aislinn Derbez as a woman the cartel is holding prisoner and Ismael Cruz Cordova as the charming cartel leader. Why Anthony Mackie has a cameo, I don’t know, but whatever. Anyway, I didn’t know until I watched the movie that it’s actually a remake of a foreign language film from 2011; just based on my reaction here, I’d probably like that one better. But this one isn’t that bad, not as bad as people have been saying; it’s a mostly painless way to kill a couple of hours. But on the whole, don’t bother; hopefully Rodriguez gets better action vehicles in future. This one’s pretty well forgettable. 2 ½ stars.
tl;dr – by-the-numbers action thriller is forgettable and a little bland, but Rodriguez’ lead performance gives it a bit of a boost; not terrible, just not particularly good. 2 ½ stars.