Parents' Guide to

Miss Bala

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Female-driven crime action has violence, swearing, drugs.

Movie PG-13 2019 103 minutes
Miss Bala Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

Overall entertaining and interesting

I have not seen the original but I do not agree with the negative attention this film has received. Although not a masterpiece in filmmaking I still found Rodríguez compelling and Ismael Cruz Córdova's performance was also convincing...although I prefer him as Mando on Sesame Street. I think Hardwicke's adaptation flows well and Rodríguez's journey is convincing as much as Bruce Willis was convincing in the Die Hard franchise...a large suspension of disbelief is needed for this genre to exist.
age 14+

Gritty and Good

The movie is about a girl who gets caught in the middle of turf war in Tijuana after going to visit a friend. There is a sense of realism which compels me to recommend this movie to young ladies as a sort of eye opener on the dangers of trafficking. The main villain is charming and attractive, which is what makes him so dangerous to the woman around him. Miss Bala (Gina Rodriguez) eventually finds her strength to overcome her obstacles (in heels none-the-less) and even though the movie takes a somewhat fictional, but not impossible, approach on her character, it was still very pleasing. Would not recommend for young children..

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (1):

Director Catherine Hardwicke and star Rodriguez wisely keep the focus on Gloria's realistic emotional and intellectual journey, making this a grounded actioner with a female-empowerment heart. Rather than dwell on macho posturing and spraying buckets of blood at every opportunity, the filmmakers let us into Gloria's wild ride through Rodriguez's expressive eyes. You can see the moments when this regular young woman realizes that she's in way too deep -- and then deeper, and deeper still. But Gloria keeps her head, making her courage all the more believable. There are plenty of white-knuckle moments, and Rodriguez lets viewers experience them all with her without going over the top. And it all starts with her irresistible friend chemistry with Rodlo. As the genuinely scary Lino, Cordova makes such a strong impression that it's tempting to call him a find -- but then you realize he's been around for a while. He's so versatile that you might not connect him to the courtier he played in Mary Queen of Scots or the soldier in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. The Ray Donovan and Berlin Station star is someone to watch.

Hardwicke keeps the story moving with an understated, gritty style, making viewers feel as trapped on the ride as Gloria is. The director depicts a lethal subculture in which women are utterly objectified, from the beauty pageant to actual human trafficking. Gloria even receives a dose of body-shaming from a female pageant official. All this is a setup for a credible transformation from someone who's in over her head to a woman who's ready to take arms against a sea of troubles. The film's subject matter and violence won't be for everyone, but Miss Bala is effective and absorbing.

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