Naranjo is unflinching in his determination not to serve up mindless entertainment.
| Original Score: 3/4
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Maybe the film doesn't add up to quite as much as its talented director, Gerardo Naranjo, seems to have hoped, but it is tense and propulsive.
Miss Bala is full of virtuoso single-take tracking shots and over-the-shoulder perspectives that effectively convey a sense of menace and momentum.
Naranjo offers a grim subject with neither flash nor sentiment. It is a sober film done with style.
This strange and eerie noir is more a collection of knockout scenes than a fully realized story.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
"Miss Bala" can't quite engage. It fires at the target. It makes a lot of noise. But it never quite hits the bull's eye.
There is a larger message to be found here, but it never derails the taut vintage thriller that's been constructed.
| Original Score: 4/5
It's an adventure story that could be called a contemporary picaresque if it weren't so deadly serious, and might be called fantastical if it weren't loosely based on a true story of a former Miss Hispanic America.
"Miss Bala" is a portrait of a young woman who is at once terribly vulnerable and improbably brave. It's equally a vision of a vulnerable society on the road to anarchy.
An urgent dispatch from the sidelines of the drug war that consumes our southern neighbor.
While it may not tell the whole story of Mexican life, it clearly captures a truth nobody can deny.
[A] well-shot, bluntly propulsive thriller...
| Original Score: 3/5
In the vision of this ruthless and abundantly talented young director, life in Tijuana isn't merely as bad as you think. It's worse.
Mexico's 2012 submission for Best Foreign Language Film - rightfully so.
| Original Score: A
Gerardo Naranjo may have made the least-glamorous movie ever about a pageant queen with "Miss Bala."
Miss Bala is a work of impressionistic reportage, built out of artfully crammed widescreen compositions and bravura long tracking shots.
There's a wild, Miami Blues-like dreaminess to the movie that's addictive.
Sigman's performance is, literally, the film.
Miss Bala is a terrifying tale of a beauty contest that ends in horror... The film is a harrowing experience. It cuts deep.
With the blistering firecracker that is Miss Bala, next-gen Mexican director and AFI grad Gerardo Naranjo delivers on the promise of such well-respected early pics as Drama/Mex and I'm Gonna Explode.
The film's pace races through events in a chain of escalating violence, tension, smoke and gunfire.
All the more disarming for the fact that it takes place in a society where politics appears redundant and money and power are gained through violent, minutely orchestrated coups.
| Original Score: 5/5
An always violent, often surreal ride through the thickets of widespread corruption, with the audience sometimes left as confused and disoriented as the poor girl.