Average User Score: 6.6Feb 18, 2012This is a movie about a woman who gets wrapped up in a violent, oppressive drug gang and, in the words of another reviewer, "doesn't fight back . . . not even a little." The plot is indeed full of holes, as has been much noted (note a border crossing scene that defies logic), but the bigger problem is that there is not a single moment where our would-be heroine displays any sort of will, creativity, or strength of character--in short, anything that would make her tale worth watching or imbue it with the slightest bit of suspense. Instead, it is an ultimately monotonous tale of a prolonged, merciless assault on an ill-defined character who never has a chance and apparently wouldn't take it she had it. It's painful for her and painful for the audience, who is left with no suspense beyond seeing what awful fate will befall this hapless victim next--like watching a gritty, modern-day Perils of Pauline, but with no one to pull the would-be heroine off the railroad tracks. Realistic, perhaps; interesting, no. For contrast, see Maria Full of Grace, a movie with a similar concept--it's every bit as raw as Miss Bala but actually delivers some human drama. The real casualty here might be Stephanie Sigman, who plays the embattled victim. In the first scenes, her portrayal of a terrified, desperate woman is palpable and stirring. Sadly, she is forced by the script and the director to maintain that mode for the next 90 minutes. It felt like 180.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Dec 19, 2010I found this movie to be deceptively shallow--entertaining to watch but ultimately flimsy. It is a psychological thriller and a conventional one at that, often dependent on predictable horror movie cliches. It is generally well paced and effectively creates a mood of foreboding, but the payoff, when it comes, is not terribly interesting and is no surprise at all. It confirms what you'd already anticipated and resolves whatever mild curiosity you might have had. The acting is good. Mila Kunis is terrific. The relationship between Natalie Portman's character and her domineering, self-loathing mother is completely credible, and Portman is effective in playing an obsessive, egocentric, immature artist. Unfortunately for her, that sort of emotional unintelligence does not make for an absorbing character--the interplay between reality and her own disturbed psyche is just not that interesting.
Considering all the hype and critical acclaim, I'm tempted to give this movie a score in the basement, but it's not a _bad_ movie. It's an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half, but nothing more than that.… Expand