La MISSION

2010

La MISSION

Critics Consensus

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50%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

72%

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User Ratings: 5,867
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Movie Info

A reformed ex-convict and lowrider car aficionado kicks his beloved son out of the house after discovering that the boy has been living a secret life in Sundance Film Festival veteran Peter Bratt's heartfelt family drama. Che (Benjamin Bratt) is out of prison and on the straight and narrow. Still, every day is a struggle as he battles alcoholism and drives a bus in order to support his family. When the workday is done, Che and his friends, the "Mission Boyz," pass the time by restoring junked cars to mint condition. Feared by his peers yet deeply respected as the toughest Chicano on the block, Che is the kind of guy whose entire existence is defined by his macho reputation. There's no one in the world that Che loves more than his adolescent son, Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez), but both father and son are about to discover that love isn't exactly unconditional. Upon discovering that Jesse has been living a secret life, Che flies into a violent rage, assaulting the boy and kicking him out onto the street. Meanwhile, Che's attractive and headstrong neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander) challenges the ultra-macho gearhead to step back for a minute and take stock of the life he thought he had. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for La MISSION

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (13)

Audience Reviews for La MISSION

  • Jul 14, 2011
    In "La Mission," Che Rivera(Benjamin Bratt, who is very good) works as a bus driver in San Francisco. In his spare time, he fixes up custom cars that take up space on a communal driveway, much to the consternation and complaints of his neighbor Lena(Erika Alexander). His latest is a special job for his son Jes(Jeremy Ray Valdez) for graduating high school before he moves away to college in Los Angeles. What Che doesn't know is that his son is gay and has a boyfriend, Jordan(Max Rosenak). Even while it might be more concerned with delivering a message of acceptance(which fits in well with a lot of Che's friends watching Oprah) and non-violence(especially important in this day and age) than in telling a compelling story, "La Mission" also manages to be an introspective look at a part of San Francisco that is often ignored and is possibly in danger from gentrification. Along these same lines, the movie suffers from a slack pace('Low and slow' might be fine for an evening drive but it's not the way to go if you want to get anywhere.). And while sporadicly cliched, it still manages to surprise with occasional bouts of complexity. While it is certainly fine to respect traditions, it is inferred that Che might be spending too much time in the past, which is implied by the older music on the soundtrack and the cool cars, and is therefore less open minded than he should be.(In fact, Jes has grown out of his previous interest in the cars.) At the same time, he has successfully escaped his troubled past and built a new life.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    Being gay is tough on the kid and many movies show that. It was refreshing to see a "coming out" story that fallows the parent(s) dealing with the news. I came out in the south and it was god to see a West coast Latino "coming out" and see they are not very different. "Coming out" is a struggle for most and thank God some do have an easier experience, but the movie reminds us most have it difficult more so than easy. It is hard to remain true to yourself when someone you loves sees life completely differently.
    Thomas J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2010
    "La Mission" is a project of love about the barrio neighborhood the Bratt brothers grew up in. Writer/Director Peter Bratt takes time and care to set up a strong sense of cultural pride with Aztec dancers, Catholic rituals, "slow and low" cruising in shiny low riders through the family oriented Mission District of San Francisco. Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt) an ex-con and recovering alcoholic, has worked hard to earn the respect of his community by going straight and being a good father to his college bound son (Jeremy Ray Valdez.) Benjamin Bratt portrays Che as the embodiment of Mexican machismo. The director presents him as a sympathetic character who was brought up to use his fists to survive on the hard streets. Che finds strength for his quest for redemption in his culture and religion. But when he discovers that his beloved son is gay, that homophobic culture drives his negative response. Enhancing the theme is a multi-racial relationship with Che's black, culturally diverse, social-worker neighbor Lena (Erika Alexander.) Lena sees through Che's violent, macho exterior. Experience has taught her that this kind of man is incapable of changing, but she can't help but be moved by the wounded boy inside. There is an odd visual metaphor which I believe is meant to show the contrast between past and present Chicano culture: colorful Aztec dancers perform at the shine of a murdered teen with a sign, "No more violence." I found it odd because the Aztec's practiced human sacrifice. Whether intentional or not, the Aztec dancers are a good metaphor for the theme: We need to keep what is healthy from our culture or religion and let go of what is destructive. "La Mission" isn't perfect. A few scenes were just left hanging - especially in the romantic subplot. I didn't feel the chemistry between Che and Lena. But Benjamin Bratt delivers one of his strongest performances. The brothers have given us an authentic, loving depiction of the culture in the Mission barrio with an important theme for our times. Much of the success of this piece is having Benjamin Pratt as the propelling force. His perfect portrayal of a complex, tortured conservative (within his cultural boundaries) push him to emotional conflicts he might never be able to handle. The audience knows we are in for tour-de-force performance when the film shows in a very early scene an emotional confrontation between father and son, after Che discovers some hidden baggage on his son's life. The scene is violent, emotional, dark, powerful, and hard to watch, as we see two human beings who obviously love each other react in very explosive terms. Jess is his father's younger version, a strong human young man who is discovering himself is not willing to compromise his belief, much like his father clings to his traditional values. The big exception is that there plenty of darkness and suffering in Che's life. In spite of having been given a second chance, as we eventually learn through scenes that provide some family and friends' back stories. Che has seen plenty of tragedy before, but he hasn't been able to find cathartic release and holds much pain inside. Dealing with his only child's new revelations might just be enough to push him into irreparable damage. There are some wonderful scenes in "The Mission." We're exposed to facets of a culture that very few people ever see. There are stereotypes, but also much is done to create real character out of many of the supporting characters. Che's brother parallel storyline is subtly presented to show the way this family interacts with each other and the strength of their family bonds. Che's African American neighbor is delightful and refreshing showing a strong and sensitive human being who might be the link between doom and salvation for Che. The biggest revelation in the film is Jeremy Ray Valdez's performance as the estranged son who might not be able to reconnect with his father. Seldom one can see such a range of emotions so perfectly displayed scene after scene, matching Pratt's nearly perfect performance bit by bit. One looks forward to seeing more of this amazing actor in the future. "The Mission" is a rich, powerful, and finely detailed movie that shows the inner workings of a segment of society rarely seen through this lens. The film is a small, intimate jewel that is both touching and enjoyable. Excellent! Growing up in the Mission district of San Francisco, Che Rivera has always had to be tough to survive. He's a powerful man respected throughout the Mission barrio for his masculinity and his strength as well as for his hobby building beautiful lowrider cars. A reformed inmate and recovering alcoholic, Che has worked hard to redeem his life and do right by his pride and joy: his only son, Jes, whom he has raised on his own after the death of his wife. Che's path to redemption is tested, however, when he discovers Jes is gay. To survive his neighborhood, Che has always lived with his fists. To survive as a complete man, he'll have to embrace a side of himself he's never shown.
    Sergio E Super Reviewer
  • May 08, 2010
    Melodrama drenched in Latin American culture with a made for tv feel. The characters are involved. There just isn't enough dialogue to go on.
    Movee C Super Reviewer

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