Miss Bala (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Catherine Hardwicke|
|Written by||Gareth Dunnett-Alcocer|
|Music by||Alex Heffes|
|Edited by||Terilyn A. Shropshire|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$15.2 million|
Miss Bala (English: "Miss Bullet") is a 2019 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. 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 wants to impress to help her chances in a beauty competition 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 building. The next morning, Gloria is unable to get contact from Suzu and decides to ride with a police officer to try to find her. When the officer takes a break, Gloria is taken by members of the Las Estrellas gang, the same men who shot up the club.
The gang take her to their headquarters, where Lino, the boss, agrees to help her find her friend if she agrees to work for them. Gloria is reluctant but eventually agrees and is told to get into a car and park it on a corner. Gloria does the job, and when she leaves the car and joins the men at the top of the hill, they blow up the building, revealed to be a DEA Safehouse containing three agents.
Lino then sends Gloria to the Miss Baja California pageant, where she attempts an escape through the bathroom. Gloria escapes and encounters a DEA officer 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 Las Estrellas.
Gloria returns to the gang 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 gets to the lot, and the men in Las Estrellas get their weapons. However the police show up, and Lino runs to seize Gloria but is shot in the leg, and Gloria helps him to safety.
The trio head to another safe house, where Gloria meets a woman named Isabella. Isabella herself was threatened into joining Las Estrellas, and bears an infigurative tattoo, meaning she belongs to them. When Gloria hears that they will be checking phones, she transfers the chip the DEA gave her to another phone. Unknowingly, she puts it in Isabella's phone, who is killed by Lino for being a suspected mole. Gloria is extremely upset, and the next morning lashes out at Lino.
Lino wants to kill The Mexican Chief of Police, so he sends Gloria to the pageant and bribes the judges so that she will win since it's rumored the Chief sleeps with every winner. Gloria goes to the after party, where she agrees to meet the Chief in another bedroom and soon finds Suzu, telling her that everything will be okay. However, when Suzu shows her the tattoo, Gloria quickly realizes that Lino deceived her and that he had known where she was the whole time.
In the room with the Chief, she writes on a postcard that Lino is going to kill him. The Chief quickly escapes outside, and Gloria goes to find Suzu. Gloria is forced to shoot the Chief in the leg after he tries to hold Suzu hostage, but then Lino kills him. Gloria points her gun at Lino, confessing she knows that he was aware of Suzu's whereabouts. Lino tries to bargain with Gloria, but she shoots first, killing him.
The two women are soon arrested, 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 he is a CIA agent who was infiltrating the gang. Gloria has Jimmy free Suzu and herself in exchange for the latter joining the CIA. She returns Suzu to her family and goes back into the car with Jimmy, driving off to help 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.
- 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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