Monday, 1 October 2012

Film Review: MISS BALA (2011)

Miss Bala - poster Director: Gerardo Naranjo
Writers: Mauricio Katz, Gerardo Naranjo
Running time: 113 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
UK Release date: 28th October 2011

Watched on Sky+ Monday 1st October 2012.


I seem to remember this one causing a bit of an initial stir when it came out but it soon died down and the film came and went (as they do) without all that much of a fanfare. Enough noise was made for it to be added to my famous ‘To See’ list and its time duly came around today. An interesting film with some nice touches, but one that I felt was lacking a little something. I had better warn those that fear the subtitle that yes, they are in abundance here (it is a Mexican film after all)… Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.

Miss Bala - 8 Laura Guerrero dreams of taking part in a beauty pageant and, along with her friend, Azucena ‘Suzu’ Ramos, she is about to realise that dream. Well that’s the plan anyway. They turn up for registration and are accepted but things are about to go wrong for Laura in the worst possible way. Suzu is picked up by a boyfriend who takes her to a club. Laura wants to go shopping and so she follows her there to try and persuade her to come with her. Whilst there, a gang of criminals break into the club and begin shooting. Laura gets out but can’t find Suzu anywhere. Eventually she finds a policeman who agrees to help her but she soon finds herself in the hands of the criminals who were at the club. They get her to drive a car and park it at a certain location. It later transpires that the car contained the bodies of two DEA agents who were killed at the club. Laura is now in the control of the gang; in particular their leader, Lino Valdez, and things are about to get much worse… I’ll leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Bala Division) will be selling me out to the gangs (again).

Miss Bala - 9 A very well made film with some rough edges to it that give it a sense of realism. One scene in particular in a car with a gunfight going on outside really appears quite realistic. Good performances all round, although it’s hard to judge in a foreign language, I did feel that Stephanie Sigman as Laura Guerrero was particularly good. The action focuses mostly on Laura and the gang leader; Lino Valdez, played by Noé Hernández, who was also very good. I will give honourable mentions to; Juan Carlos Galván as Arturo Guerrer, Irene Azuela as Jessica Berlanga, Javier Zaragoza as Ramón Guerrero and Lakshmi Picazo as Azucena ‘Suzu’ Ramos.

Miss Bala - 3 A damning indictment on the drugs trade in Mexico, this film highlights the plight of many that fall into the clutches of these gangs. I did enjoy the rough and ready style of filming; you really felt you were right in the heart of the action… maybe a little too close at times! Although I enjoyed it I did feel it was lacking a certain something. I think it was a sense of menace from the gang leader, Lino; he just didn’t seem to have enough malice about him to make Laura fear him so much. Maybe I’m wrong but that’s how I saw it. Over all though a film that’s well worth a look (if you can do battle with the subtitles).

SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

My score: 6.9/10

IMDb Score: 6.5/10 (based on 2,756 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 80/100: (Based on 22 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Miss Bala - 4 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 87/100 (based on 62 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 64/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 3,750 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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