Bordertown (2006)

"I've got some nasty plans for you."
Gregory Nava shot this and
never made another film since.
At a glance:
Recently I've watched a few movies like A Better Life (2011) and Trade (2007), so I thought I'd rehash this old review I wrote, considerin how its director, Gregory Nava, never made another film since! I remember it arrivin late to Malaysia in 2007 under Suraya Production. They even did a tie-up with some local charity body or women's rights NGO, not that it helped the collections any. Bordertown, like a lot of Nava's films, is about a specific real-life event affectin the Mexican diaspora in the United States.

The openin sequence states that U.S. companies are usin the North American Free Trade Agreement to open maquiladoras – assembly factories that exploit cheap Mexican labour (mostly women) to mass-produce goods for easy export back into the U.S. One border town is Juárez, noted as the second most important in the world (60,000 transits daily) after Tijuana.

Along comes our protagonist – Lauren (Jennifer Lopez), a career-minded Latino journo from Chicago who's eyein a big job but has to take on a dubious assignment first. This would be to investigate the high incidence of rape and murder in Juárez - somethin the government is reportedly coverin up. The story then becomes a struggle for Lauren to protect an escaped victim, Eva (Maya Zapata) with the help of an ex-colleague, Diaz (Antonio Banderas).
"Why the hell are you in this film with  me, Antonio?"
Bad news on the doorstep:
I admit I can't take J. Lo seriously in any film – well, perhaps that 1997 Selena biopic (under Nava, too) in which she was convincin, if only because she had considerably less attractive features than she does now. However, how should we take this indie film, when she has produced it herself and gained recognition from Amnesty International for it? While we can give full marks to J. Lo for apparently takin a genuine interest in the political issue at hand, the translation to film is problematic once you get past the theme. Not only is it two-dimensional (indies usually are when it's a labour of love) for positively blamin the murders on very specific parties, it doesn't have substance of direction. The scenes are messy, the actin contrived. The situation is made worse if you consider this as an isolated story which needed a strong universal element for audiences to identify with the tragedy of the slain women. Lopez could've aced this, playin Lauren, the power-hungry American journo who wanted fame but found meanin in her work. Sadly her role and the victim's are both underwritten, not to mention the many detractin bits which do nothin for the story, the biggest bein the part of Antonio Banderas!
"Judgin by the size of this juicy maggot, I'd say 2-2 days."
Perennial wonderment:
Is Salma Hayek or J.Lo better in bed? If you've ever seen Frida (2002), you'd say it's the former.
Reminds me of:
Erin Brockovich (2000), Maria Full Of Grace (2004), Traffic (2000) and Trade (2007).
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
I've no doubt this should have been shot as a documentary instead of even riskin it seen as a J. Lo vehicle for cementin herself as a serious actress. Bordertown has good intentions but is flawed by inaccessible specifics that struggle to make us care. ★★
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