Across the border from its peaceful and prosperous twin city of El Paso, Ciudad Juarez not only has the highest murder rate in Mexico but it has also been ground zero for up to 5,000 femicides over the last ten years. With local authorities refusing to investigate and covering up the murders as best as they can it has become an international symbol for the struggle for women's rights. Is there a good film to be made here? I am not sure if there is. There are easily dozens of terrible ones, however, and this is no exception.
This film is so incompetent and so confused as to what it wants to be that it very quickly becomes nigh unwatchable. Rather than the story of Juarez this is a movie about Jennifer Lopez's reporter, her troubles and how she heroically puts everything on the line to do the job local law enforcement is unwilling to do. Yes, ladies and gentlemen: the reason women have been and continue to be killed in Juarez is because J-Lo has not taken it upon herself to put a stop to it. You know, kind of like how you only live because Chuck Norris allows you to. Beyond that the film is littered with throwaway roles that only exist so celebrities such as Martin Sheen, Antonio Banderas and Juanes can go on record as having put theirnames behind the cause of bringing awareness to the plight of the women of Juarez. There are ridiculous action sequences, ridiculous suspense sequences, a ridiculous villain and an even more ridiculous conclusion. The movie's performances are bad, its screenplay shoddy and its direction uniformly terrible. This is an insult to the thousands of mothers, sisters and daughters who have lost their lives for the simple fact that they are women.
And yet...there are small details, ideas that the film raises sometimes by accident that hint as to the film that could have been. The Juarez presented is a den of degradation, a city constructed from the bottom up by the exploitation of women in order to facilitate the exploitation of women. Strip clubs litter the streets, prostitutes expose themselves to danger on every corner, factory workers risk their lives every day for pittance and all for the sake of an economy that is predicated on equal parts tourism (much of it of the sexual variety) and outsourced factories from the north. The film also argues, at one point, that in this day and age nationalities and geographical boundries are a thing of the past as international conflict and domestic issues do not concern the wealthy as they are a country unto themselves regardless of their origin. Needless to say the film neither explores these things nor even bothers bringing them up again. It does, however, imply that the production team must have had a very good advisor at some point even if they almost completely ignored his or her input.
Label this one under garbage with dellusions of grandeur simply because it is (kinda sorta but not really) is about a social issue. Garbage is garbage all around, ladies and gentlemen, and this is garbage.