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Bordertown (2006)

Director: Gregory Nava
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Antonio Banderas, Martin Sheen
Rated R Running time: 114 minutes
Released by Velocity/Thinkfilm

Bordertown is a movie with a message. What that message is, I have no idea. Part Lifetime melodrama, part serial killer B-movie, part PSA against NAFTA, part diatribe against media and government corruption; all of it adds up to one big, nearly incomprehensible mess. It cost over twenty million dollars to produce, got laughed off the screen at the Berlin Film Festival, and has become possibly the most expensive direct-to-video movie ever made.

"Jenny from the block" is a reporter who goes to Juarez, Mexico to do a story on a series of murders being committed against female factory workers. She befriends a woman who survives the attack, hangs out with Antonio Banderas, yells at Martin Sheen over the phone, and eventually goes undercover to catch the killer. All of this is surrounded with beautifully shot montages which are too hamfisted to be symbolic (little girls seen playing while barbed wire looms in the foreground, for example). Sheen and Banderas are on autopilot for their roles, leaving the questionably talented Jennifer Lopez to carry the dramatic weight of the film. Lopez goes through a variety of facial expressions and alters the tone of her voice the help convey different emotions, but never for a second do we actually feel like we are watching someone who is not Jenifer Lopez. She is not convincing as a reporter who finds her life transformed by the story she has become involved with, a fact not helped in any way by the unintentionally hilarious dialogue she is required to speak.

Director Gregory Nava seems to care a great deal about NAFTA and would have been much better off saving time and money by just making a documentary about it. His attempt to mix a serial killer thriller with his political concerns fails miserably in nearly every conceivable way.

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