Buy Desierto on Amazon Video
Written by: Jonás Cuarón, Mateo Garcia
Directed by: Jonás Cuarón
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Alondra Hidalgo
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
A vigilante attacks a group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.
It's not bad. It's a solid chase/thriller movie but it doesn't set itself apart either. A few contrivances nudge this to the forgettable category, despite looking at a border crossing from the immigrant's side.
Writer and director Jonás Cuarón is the son of Alphonso Cuarón, who directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Children of Men (2006), Gravity (2013).
This starts with a group of people attempting to cross the Mexico border into the U.S. Their truck breaks down and the group is split up, forced to walk. Enter Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Sam, a vigilante hunting illegals on his own.
It's already hinted that Sam doesn't think much of border patrol, and even less of illegal immigrants. The scene where Sam finds the imigrants builds tension as Sam's dog discovers the lead group. Sam goes for his rifle, and we don't know if he just wants a better look, is going to scare them, or will shoot them. It's the latter. This gets crazy as Sam picks off men, women, and children with no hesitation. Obviously this isn't his first time, but if he does this frequently, the body count would raise a lot of questions.
The rest of the movie is Sam tracking the remaining Mexicans, as they try to escape him and his killer dog. This movie is focused. It's all about the hunt, and this is almost like a horror movie with a villain that just doesn't stop. His dog also kills at will.
There's a specific scene where you can tell the dog is a prop. It's laughable, but they should have forgotten about the prop and have the action in that scene happen off screen. It looks incredibly fake.
More than a few plot points come off as contrived just to trap the survivors. A truck flips over on the only piece of ground that isn't flat. This leads to one of the final scenes is a cat and mouse game between Sam and his potential victim on a giant rock outcropping. It's kind of like when you and your sibling would chase each other around the dinner table.
The movie is trying to invoke empathy and sympathy, and while it does to a degree by appealing to human ethics, it doesn't try to be very deep or even make the characters that interesting. With this kind of genre the characters don't have to be deep, but it helps when the subject matter is divisive.