"Reel Reviews: ‘Miss Bala:’ Confusing start leads to cartel-DEA violence" by: Jessica Shepard

   I went in to see “Miss Bala” blind.
   As in, I hadn’t seen the trailer or did much more than reading a vague synopsis off the movie theater’s website.
   Cue instant confusion when the opening credits claimed that it was based off another movie with a similar name. 
   Still, I sat through the action-packed cartel flick and enjoyed it more than I expected.
   The film stars Gina Rodriguez, Cristina Rodlo, Ismael Cruz Córdova, and Anthony Mackie, and follows a woman who trains to take down a Mexican drug cartel after they kidnap her friend.
   Gloria Fuentes (Rodriguez), is a Latin-American makeup artist from Los Angeles that visits her best friend Suzu (Rodlo) in Tijuana, Mexico. 
   When the pair go to a night club, they spot the Chief of Police, who Suzu wants to impress to help her chances in a beauty competition she has entered. 
   When Gloria goes to the bathroom, armed gunmen break into the bathroom through the vents. 
   They pull Gloria out of her stall but ultimately give her time to escape while they gun down the place. 
   When she can’t get a hold of Suzu the next morning, she rides with a police officer to try to find her. 
   When the officer stops the car, Gloria is taken by members of the Las Estrellas gang, the same men who shot up the club. 
   They take her to their headquarters, where their boss Lino (Cordova), agrees to help her find her friend if she agrees to work for them. 
   She reluctantly agrees and is told to get into a car and park it on a corner. 
   Once she does that, she leaves the car and joins the men at the top of the hill, they blow up the building, which is later revealed to be a DEA safe house containing three agents. 
   Lino then sends Gloria to the Miss Baja California pageant with one of his men, where she attempts an escape through the bathroom window. 
   She sees a white man and asks if he’s American, but he turns out to be a DEA agent and threatens her with years in prison if she doesn’t help the DEA get to Las Estrellas. 
   Gloria proclaims her innocence and begs to be let go, but they make her take a tracking chip in her phone to plant on Lino and send her back to the gang.
   She goes back to Las Estrellas and is sent to San Diego with money and drugs attached to her car. 
   Upon delivering the drugs in San Diego, she is given guns to bring back to Mexico, and then told to meet up with the gang in a large parking lot. 
   Gloria contacts the DEA agent about the weapons and where to find them while the men in Las Estrellas get their weapons. 
   However the police show up with the DEA, and a huge shootout happens which overwhelms Gloria and has her running away to the DEA’s promised safety of a hidden getaway vehicle.
   And really, that’s just one of the twists in this story.
   Overall, it had its entertaining moments and was beautifully shot, but, its only claim was having a female lead who managed to bring down a gang.
   Miss Bala is rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence, sexual and drug content, thematic material, and language.   

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