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To whom can we attribute the meager success of Miss Bala, the wholly Americanized remake of the fine 2011 Mexican crime drama? It might be director Catherine Hardwicke, who does a decent job nudging along a shaky plot involving Gloria, a young Mexican-American played by Gina Rodriguez (AKA Jane the virgin from Jane the Virgin) who, through sheer dumb happenstance, winds up doing menial, dangerous work for a Tijuana drug cartel. We could also point to Gareth Dunnett-Alcocer’s script, which flimsily and serviceably papers over plot holes and major changes to the original story.

Or maybe it's the acting that keeps Miss Bala afloat? The cast handles some often shoddy dialogue and overblown sequences with an appropriate level of intensity and, when needed, sensuality. Ismael Cruz Córdova has a particularly good time sneering and leering his way through the film as Lino, the devilish leader of a drug cartel. And while Rodriguez has never really tried subtlety before, thankfully, her role of a withering makeup artist turned drug mule doesn’t require any. Like the rest of the film, the cast's efforts won’t earn them any awards—but overall, Miss Bala is and enjoyable enough diversion amid Hollywood’s post-Oscar nomination dumping ground.



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