Hollywood’s action movies usually have one thing in common: a male lead. Things are changing, however. More and more women are taking the lead in a variety of genres, including action. On February 1, a new action star will hit the screen when Gina Rodriguez stars in MISS BALA.
For this movie, director Catherine Hardwicke (THIRTEEN, TWILIGHT) adapts a Mexican film of the same name from 2011. While the original movie was a tense dramatic thriller about a young woman coerced into working for a drug cartel, Hardwicke’s version injects a massive dose of adrenaline into the story. It’s a fitting evolution for a film with a title that translates to “Miss Bullet.”
MISS BALA has been in the works for a while, but with a national conversation focused on our southern border, the movie seems particularly topical. Cartels are a hot topic right now; recent hits like THE MULE and SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO are joined by COLD PURSUIT and this film. Here’s how MISS BALA defines its own ground.
The War on Drugs
MISS BALA explores a vision of drug cartels that is different than the standard. Rather than featuring a character who grew into the cartel lifestyle, or is on a mission to take down an organization, it focuses on both sides of the drug war. Gloria is a lot like most of us: She just wants to be safe and for her loved ones to be able to live without fear.
So, when Gloria becomes a pawn for both sides of the war, her anger is intense and even relatable. It’s exactly what we might feel. That’s part of what leads her to embark on her own violent mission. Like a character who might typically be played by Liam Neeson or Keanu Reeves, Gloria takes up arms to create a vision of extreme retribution. That allows MISS BALA to evolve as a unique take on cartel conflict.
A New Action Hero
Gina Rodriguez is close to being a household name, and MISS BALA could put her over the top. The “Jane the Virgin” star keeps reaching new career heights. In addition to her incredible TV work, she’s had solid supporting roles in films like DEEPWATER HORIZON and ANNIHILATION. Now, MISS BALA gives her a chance to play the sort of character none of her previous projects have offered.
The 34-year-old was born to Puerto Rican parents, and she understands the value of a Mexican-American character leading a film like MISS BALA. The cast and crew are overwhelmingly Latinx, which is particularly significant in the sort of film where Mexican characters would once have only been villains. Rodriguez celebrated the experience of the shoot when she sat down with us during a press day:
“For one, I was like, they’re doing this? This is happening? And we get to shoot in Mexico? And it was very cool, with the different dialects of Spanish, the different slang — the different music that was very specific to each country. Latinos are a multitude! We’re not monolithic. There are so many, and we’re so beautiful.
MISS BALA opens in theatres on February 1.