Grade: B

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Author: Billy Madden

I always welcome surprises in a movie. Though I was intrigued when I first saw the trailer for Miss Bala many months ago, my expectations were low.  The trailer portrays the movie as a normal action thriller with a female star. I kept thinking, “I want to see it, but it looks unoriginal; what if it wastes my time?” Usually, this thought is followed with, “Why not? I’m an AMC A-List member. It wouldn’t cost me much to see it.” Thank goodness for that second thought because I couldn’t be happier I saw Miss Bala.

The storyline of Miss Bala is that the film follows a makeup artist who gets sucked into a mission to save her friend from a gang boss. This is the simplest plot I can explain to maintain a spoiler-free zone. That said, prepare for an intriguing movie with surprises and suspense. I was on the edge of my seat numerous times during its 104-minute run time. Gina Rodriguez did a phenomenal job as the principal character, Gloria.

Most of the movie revolves around Gloria and Lino (played by Ismael Cruz Córdova), the “La Estrella” gang leader. Córdova does a convincing job of playing a cold-hearted and selfish gang boss. Gloria’s plight increases when she is coupled with Anthony Mackie’s character, Jimmy, who portrays a CIA agent that she must appease. This creates a pickle as Lino cannot know that Gloria is working with the CIA, though she needs him to keep his promise of finding her friend.

Miss Bala was refreshing because, unlike most action movies where the central character has a set of skills, Gloria is just your average Jill makeup artist who happens to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with her friend.  Gloria doesn’t know how to kick someone’s ass, nor does she even really know how to fire a gun properly; she instead adapts as best as she can.

I saw the movie in Dolby Digital, so every gun blast and rapid firing was loud, adding to the experience. I would recommend seeing this movie in Dolby Digital if you can. Either way, the movie has numerous gunfights, and all are shot well. The cinematographer did a great job of giving you a front-row seat to the action.

The movie was far from perfect, however. One issue I had was it appeared that things would work with our unskilled lead. She could (fairly easily) get out of any jam she was in. Another concern revolved around the title of the movie. “Bala” means bullet in Spanish, and the title Miss Bala has little to do with the movie. There is no mention of “Miss Bala” during any scene. The closest it gets to it is during the Miss Baja competition, which plays a key part in the story. Though there may be more to the title choice, instead of being revealed organically, it would involve audiences to research to find the answer.

Miss Bala does throw you some twists, and its story keeps you holding your breath until the very last scene.  It was very entertaining.

Of course, Miss Bala is not targeting (no pun intended) an Oscar, and it is by no means an award-winning movie. Still, the movie hit its mark (okay, that pun was intended) in entertaining me, throwing me a few twists, and causing me to hold my breath during intense scenes. See it and have a blast; you will be well entertained!

Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of gun violence, sexual and drug content, thematic material, and language)
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Screenwriter: Gareth Dunnet Alcocer
Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Matt Lauria, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Cristina Rodlo, Ricardo Abarca, Daniela de la Fe
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Action


A beauty contest winner is forced to work for a crime boss after she witnesses a murder. The movie remake of the 2011 film, “Miss Bala.”

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