‘Miss Bala’

A great — if burdensome, but damn near inevitable — test to distinguish a star from a movie star:

Can the wattage of their stardom shine through, and thus transcend, quotidian filmmaking? Holding them responsible for failing to transform such cinematic skullduggery into an enjoyable viewing experience seems like an unfair standard; tolerating an otherwise insufferable movie is often the most that can be squeezed from so little.

In this regard, Miss Bala proves that its star, Gina Rodriguez, is a legitimate movie star.

Unfortunately, she’s the only legit part of the whole movie, remaining consistently believable throughout despite the unintentional, unimaginative artifice surrounding her in this classic fish-out-of-water action romp, in which a perceived minnow must find her inner shark to survive Mexico’s criminal underworld.

Its PG-13 rating ensures parents of Gina Rodriguez’s Jane the Virgin fans will at least consider purchasing tickets, but would the actual movie have been better off as ‘R’? Without a fulfilling alternative to this blood and guts and gore (oh my!), at least action movies cinematically parrot the glorification of bodies, juxtaposing their potential for precise beauty with their capacity to be haphazardly maligned.

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