When a young girl applies to a beauty contest (Miss Baja -“Bala”, by the way, is spanish for bullet), as a way out of poverty, she finds herself in the middle of a drug war – wrong place, wrong time. The contest of course has been bought off by a drug cartel, and when her best friend is killed as part of a massacre at a nightclub, she is sucked in even deeper. When she goes looking for her friend (before she is confirmed dead) she’s in too deep to do anything other than cooperate fully.
And that is the point where the story lost credibility with me. Did she really have to go along with everything at that point to remain alive? The case wasn’t made compelling enough for me. Laura Guerrero is increasingly more and more at risk, and the tension is ramped up incrementally. The gang leader, who seems to have taken a liking to her, shows restraint at first, so that we might believe she will not be harmed. In a climactic scene on a beach, his “restraint” leaves him, and Miss Bala is brutalized.
It’s a downer of a film, seemingly leaving no room for optimism. But I suppose that is the reality of the choke hold that the cartels and the drug lords have on the country of Mexico.