Miss Bala (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Catherine Hardwicke|
|Written by||Gareth Dunnett-Alcocer|
|Based on||Miss Bala|
by Gerardo Naranjo
|Music by||Alex Heffes|
|Edited by||Terilyn A. Shropshire|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$15.4 million|
Miss Bala (English: "Miss Bullet") is a 2019 American action thriller film directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, based on the 2011 Mexican film of the same name. The film stars Gina Rodriguez, Ismael Cruz Córdova, and Anthony Mackie, and follows a woman who trains to take down a Mexican drug cartel after her friend is kidnapped.
The film was released in the United States on February 1, 2019, by Columbia Pictures, in Dolby Cinema, and grossed over $15 million on a $15 million budget making it an average grosser. While Rodriguez's performance received some praise, critics compared the film unfavorably to the original, saying it suffered from "bland action and predictable story beats".
When the pair go to a local night club, Suzu plans to impress the Mexican Chief of Police, Saucedo, in order to help her chances in the Miss Baja California beauty pageant which she has entered. When Gloria goes to the bathroom, armed gunmen break in through the vents and attempt to kidnap Gloria out of her stall but ultimately give her time to escape while they attack the club. Chaos ensues as Gloria is separated from Suzu. The next morning, Gloria is unable to get in contact with Suzu and decides to ride with a police officer to try to find Suzu. She informs the police officer that she has information on the men who attacked the club, and the officer asks her to follow him to the station. When the officer takes a break in a remote location, Gloria is taken by members of the Los Estrellas gang, the same men who shot up the club.
The gang take her to their headquarters, where Lino, the gang leader, agrees to help her find Suzu if she agrees to work for them. Gloria is reluctant but eventually agrees as she does not have much choice, and is told to get into a car and park it on a corner of a building. Gloria does the job, and when she leaves the car and joins the men at the top of a hill overlooking the building, they blow up the building, revealed to be a DEA safehouse containing three agents.
Lino then sends Gloria to the Miss Baja pageant, where she attempts an escape through the bathroom. Gloria escapes and encounters a DEA agent, Brian Reich, who takes her into custody and eventually lets her go but not before he puts a tracking device on her since the DEA are aiming to monitor Los Estrellas.
Gloria returns to Suzu's apartment and finds Lino there, and is sent to San Diego with blood money and drugs attached to her car. Upon crossing the border Gloria is given an arsenal of guns to bring back to Mexico by a gangster named Jimmy, and then told to meet in a large parking lot. Gloria then informs Brian about the meet-up at the parking lot, where he promises to send a SWAT team to rescue her during the mission to capture Lino and the Los Estrellas gang. As Gloria arrives at the parking lot, the men in Los Estrellas get their weapons. However the police show up under Brian's command, causing a gunfight to ensue in the lot. Gloria runs to a nearby gate where Brian promised to send the SWAT team to pick her up, but upon seeing nobody there she realizes that Brian's only goal was to capture Los Estrellas, and that he had no intention of helping her. Seeing Gloria stranded in the middle of the gunfight, Lino runs to Gloria to save her, but is shot in the leg. After a moment of hesitation, Gloria decides to help Lino and together, they escape with the other members of Los Estrellas.
The gang head to another safe house, where Gloria meets a woman named Isabella. Isabella herself was threatened into joining Los Estrellas, and bears an infigurative tattoo, meaning she belongs to them. When Gloria hears that they will be checking phones to find a mole in the group, she transfers the chip that Brian gave her to another phone. Lino brings Gloria on a ride to meet some family, and they spend time together as Lino shares his dream of living a simple life in the countryside despite his involvement in a gang. As they return to the safe house, the gang informs Lino that they have found the mole. Unknowingly and to her dismay, Gloria had put the chip in the phone belonging to Isabella, who is killed by Lino for being the suspected mole. Gloria is extremely upset, and the next morning she lashes out at Lino.
Lino explains his plan to kill The Mexican Chief of Police, Saucedo, to Gloria, and shows her a video of Suzu being auctioned off to various buyers. He explains that Suzu was taken the night of the club shooting, and is sold as an escort every night. His plan is to send Gloria to the Miss Baja pageant and ensure her victory by bribing the judges, after which she will be invited to the afterparty organized by Saucedo. Gloria participates in the pageant and wins, and is then invited to the afterparty at Saucedo's beach home. At the party, she agrees to meet with Saucedo in one of the villas, which she informs Lino of the whereabouts via an in-ear microphone. Before meeting Saucedo, Gloria sees Suzu, and they reunite, Gloria telling Suzu that everything will be okay. However, when Suzu shows her a tattoo on her hand, the same tattoo that Isabella had, Gloria quickly realizes that Lino deceived her and that he had known where Suzu was the whole time.
As Gloria follows Saucedo into the villa, she writes on a postcard that Lino is going to kill him. Saucedo quickly escapes outside just as Los Estrellas begin their attack, and Gloria goes to find Suzu armed with a gun from one of the fallen Los Estrellas gang members. As Gloria goes to find Suzu, she is forced to shoot Saucedo in the leg after he tries to hold Suzu hostage, but then Lino kills him and thanks Gloria for her help in killing Saucedo. Gloria points her gun at Lino, confessing she knows that he was aware of Suzu's whereabouts. Lino tries to bargain with Gloria telling her that they both did what needed to be done, but she ends up shooting and killing him.
The two women are soon arrested when the cops arrive at the party, and when Gloria is taken into an interrogation room, she finds Jimmy, the man she had received the weapons from in San Diego, and realizes that he is a CIA agent. Gloria has Jimmy free Suzu and herself, and she returns Suzu to her family and goes back into the car with Jimmy, driving off to join the CIA.
- Gina Rodriguez as Gloria Fuentes, a makeup artist from Los Angeles.
- Ismael Cruz Córdova as Lino Esparza, the chief of Las Estrellas, a gang from Tijuana.
- Matt Lauria as Brian Reich, a DEA officer.
- Ricardo Abarca as Pollo, Lino's main henchman.
- Cristina Rodlo as Suzu Ramós, Gloria's best friend who lives in Tijuana and a competitor on the Miss Baja California pageant.
- Sebastián Cano as Chava Ramós, Suzu's little brother who lives with her.
- Damián Alcázar as Rafael Saucedo, Tijuana chief of police.
- Anthony Mackie as Jimmy, a gangster from San Diego, who is secretly a CIA agent.
- Aislinn Derbez as Isabel, a woman abducted by Las Estrellas.
- Lilian Guadalupe Tapia Robles as Doña Rosita, a woman who work for Las Estrellas.
- Erick Rene Delgadillo Urbina as Tucán, Lino's henchman.
- Mikhail Plata as Chivo, Lino's henchman.
- Jorge Humberto Millan Mardueño as Ortiz, Lino's henchman.
- Thomas Dekker as Justin, Gloria's boss in Los Angeles.
- José Sefami as Don Ramon, a man who work for Rafael Saucedo.
- Gaby Orihuela as the coordinator of the Miss Baja California pageant.
- Roberto Sosa as the police officer who secretly work for Las Estrellas.
In April 2017, it was announced Catherine Hardwicke would direct the film, from a screenplay by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, with Kevin Misher and Pablo Cruz producing the film, with Andy Berman serving as an executive producer on the film. In May 2017, Gina Rodriguez and Ismael Cruz Córdova joined the cast of the film. In July 2017, Matt Lauria, Cristina Rodlo, and Aislinn Derbez joined the cast of the film. Anthony Mackie later joined the cast of the film. The cast and crew are said to be 95 percent Latino. Sony reportedly spent $15 million producing the film.
In the United States and Canada, Miss Bala was projected to gross $6–9 million from 2,203 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $2.8 million on its first day, including $650,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $6.7 million, finishing third at the box office. Deadline Hollywood wrote that given its $15 million production budget, an opening of $10–12 million would've been an ideal start in order for the film to turn a profit. It fell 60% in its second weekend to $2.7 million, finishing 10th.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 22% based on 105 reviews, with an average rating of 4.59/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Miss Bala suggests Gina Rodriguez has a future as an action hero; unfortunately, it also demonstrates how hard it is to balance set pieces against a compelling story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 3.5 out of 5 stars; social media monitor RelishMix noted online responses to the film were "mixed-to-negative".
Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times was critical of the film, saying, "Run away from Gina Rodriguez's ludicrous drug running shoot-em-up... Miss Bala is an early contender for a spot on my list of the worst movies of 2019."
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