Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: While out on a father-son border patrol, the son kills a Mexican immigrant boy. When the father tries taking the blame, the son flees south on horseback, becoming a gringo “illegal alien” in Mexico.
Review: No Man’s Land has an interesting premise. It tells a story about something most people (including myself) know little to nothing about. Located in the areas that lie between the Texas-Mexico border known as “no man’s land”, a father (Frank Grillo) and his son Jackson (played by co-writer of the screenplay and brother of the director, Jake Allyn) come upon Mexicans trying to cross into the US.
Jackson accidentally kills a teenage boy who happens to be the son of Gustavo, a “coyote”(the person who helps people across the border illegally). Jackson’s father tries to take the blame, as Jackson is being scouted for the minor leagues and has the opportunity to make it out of this harsh lifestyle. But Jackson panics and escapes from the suspicious Texas Ranger (George Lopez) by crossing the river into Mexico.
With talents the like of Frank Grillo (The Purge: Election Year/Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day/Magic Mike XXL) and George Lopez (I GOT THIS!), and an interesting story that tries to be sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants using a modern-day Western theme, I honestly thought this movie would’ve been an easy win. But sadly, once Jackson makes a run for it, the film meanders lazily (frustratingly so) into these long and somewhat pointless scenes that, in my humble opinion, focuses the lens on the wrong person.
We don’t spend nearly enough time with the more seasoned actors in this movie and the only time I felt any real connection to the drama unfolding was when the focus was on the grieving and angry father of the murdered boy, Gustavo, played by Jorge A. Jimenez (Alita Battle Angel/Narcos:Mexico). He’s quite good here and outshines everyone else. The character of Jackson just came across to me as another well-meaning, but ultimately entitled white man. And one who hasn’t even bothered to learn any Spanish, which is really weird considering where he lives and the fact he, his father and brother chose to patrol the borders to protect their homestead.
The movie wraps up with a jarringly violent finale (which seems to come out of nowhere considering the snail’s pace for the rest of the movie) in a way that doesn’t feel earned and is simply pandering to viewers who came into this expecting more of a western and less of a drama.
If there is one saving grace to this film it is the beautiful cinematography littered throughout. And you can tell the intent is well-meaning (Jackson learns there is a lot more to Mexico and its people than he was taught), but it’s too on the nose and too preachy. And in the end, No Man’s Land is just another movie you’ll watch and quickly forget as time goes by.
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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