Friday, November 11, 2016


Hunting Illegals At The US-Mexico Border

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

A group of illegal immigrants make a crossing across the Badlands from Mexico into the United States. Their danger is not the hostile desert terrain or the relentless Sun. Their biggest and unknown danger comes from a rogue rancher who has a sniper rifle and a tracking dog. He kills the immigrants for sport with a hatred that is horrifying. Among the immigrants is Gael Garcia Bernal and it’s such an obvious story you know he’s going to win. You just have to sit through the awfulness.

Main Review:

That many American ranchers who live on the border live with a hatred for illegals crossing the desert is known. With the current President Elect promising a wall built across the border makes this movie bone-chillingly prophetic. Could immigrants making that death-defying border crossing even more dangerous?

The movie is fast paced and the superb camera work make you feel every step of that run through the desert. The cactii are hostile, the stony, dusty ground is hostile and there seems to be no cover from the hunter’s rifle that seems to be picking the illegals out one by one.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan has played the part of a rough soldier before, so the gun suits him. The dog by his side is able to track the illegals so his master can shoot at them.

‘Is there a law against hunting rabbits?’ He has asked a border patrol policeman who asks him why he is wandering about so close to the border.

But in the movie, rabbits seem to have a fair chance of surviving the sniper’s rifle than the group of illegals making their way to the promised land. The group is largely made up of assorted non-individuals, except for Gael Garcia Bernal. It’s painfully obvious that he is going to be the savior of the immigrants. Alas, when the others die, horribly and too easily, we don’t really care because the director fails to tell us their backstories. We are horrified when they are killed one by one, but there is no empathy for the individual characters. The only stories we know are through one line the young girl tells Bernal: I didn’t want to leave home, but my parents said their home wasn’t safe any more. The guy who has promised to take care of the young girl makes unwanted amorous gestures towards the girl and she does not like it. And there’s our hero Bernal who is carrying a teddy bear given by his son which has a sound chip. You know the teddy bar is going to start singing when least required. The rancher too is shown simply hating illegals attempting to cross the border. We are given no reason why he hates so much. We don’t understand why when he hates so much that he can love his dog equally well.

In movies that have come before we have seen men who hate illegals hunt in packs to capture and torture. There is a sadistic joy which is understandable, with each rancher egging the other on for more violence. But with such an obvious and dodgy, slim line of a story, we are just appalled at the hunting and the hunted. The catharsis comes too late and it is too little. There seems to be so much violence in the film it borders on celebration rather than shock. Sin Nombre which has a similar plot was way more human and engaging.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

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