Hostile Borders DVD Review

  • Actors: Jesse Garcia, Roberto Urbina, Veronica Sixtos, Julio Cedillo, Jorge Jimenez
  • Director: Michael Dwyer
  • Producers: Alica Dwyer, John Kim
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2016
  • Run Time: 84 minutes

  • Hostile Borders DVD Review

            There needs to be some reason for a film to keep my attention, and hating the main character does not suffice. For this reason, I often found Hostile Borders nearly unbearable. Despite ample opportunity within the unique set-up to discuss politics, this inexplicable drama instead forces melodrama and cheap thrills. We spend the entire film with a character that has no apparent opinions beyond her own selfish desires, and even these are often difficult to discern amidst the sparse dialogue given to her and the one-note performance from the lead. Even the most obvious character development you might expect to see is thrown away for mindless action sequences, which are poorly shot and have no gravity since I had no compassion for anyone involved.

            The film begins with a coldly calculated credit card theft operation carried out in the United States by a Mexican mother and daughter team. When the daughter, Claudia (Veronica Sixtos), is caught by the police, she is deported to Mexico. Having been raised in the United States, Claudia doesn’t even speak Spanish, though her biological father owns a cattle ranch and welcomes her in. You may assume that this leads to the repair of their relationship or the building of Claudia’s character as she works on her father’s property, but instead she quickly finds a way to continue illegal and immoral behavior. Even more unconvincing is the ease with which she saddles up to an American drug smuggler, who somehow operates near the ranch which is located in the middle of nowhere.

            This leads to chase scenes and shootouts, climactically resolving with a large explosion. It is all pretty derivative stuff while still managing to feel less believable than other movies which have done the same. The story exists in the real world, with many issues that are in dire need of discussion, but instead ignores them for these forced moments of suspense. Immigration is a plot device in Hostile Borders, but never a discussion point. But all of this may have been dismissed if the film offered us an engaging protagonist to root for. Instead we get Claudia, who is even more unlikable once Sixtos gets done with her purse-lipped performance. Her expression never much changes, even as her situation does. Though the intention of the former sitcom and Disney Channel actress may have been to give off the impression of someone who is tough, this gives the audience absolutely no information about her thoughts. It is troubling enough to relate to Claudia since she doesn’t speak the same language as most of the characters (and never appears to try and learn), so the loss of facial expression is too much for the weak narrative to handle. By the end, I didn’t care whether or not Claudia returned to the United States, or even if the character lived or died. The only thing that really mattered to me was the film’s run-time, which felt much longer than it was.

    Entertainment Value: 2.5/10
    Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
    Historical Significance:  1/10
    Special Features: 0/10

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