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"NO MAN'S LAND"
(2021) (Jake Allyn, Jorge A. Jimenez) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young potential baseball pro goes on the run to Mexico and ends up hunted down by various people after he shoots and kills an illegal immigrant boy near the Texas border.
PLOT:

Jackson Greer (JAKE ALLYN) is a young man who lives on a Texas ranch with his brother, Lucas (ALEX MACNICOLL), and parents, Bill (FRANK GRILLO) and Monica (ANDIE McDOWELL). With a promising professional baseball career in his near future, all of them are proud of him, but Jackson hates being forced to sit out various things to protect his gift. And that includes joining his dad and brother in hopes of reclaiming cattle stolen from them by Mexican raiders who crossed the border. Despite being told to stay home, he grabs his rifle, jumps on his horse, and rides into the night to help them.

But during an ensuing skirmish where Lucas ends up shot and Bill is stabbed, Jackson goes to defend them. Instead, and in the heat of the moment, he ends up shooting young Fernando Almeida (ALESSIO VALENTINI), much to the horror of that boy's father, Gustavo (JORGE A. JIMENEZ), and local Texas Ranger Ramirez (GEORGE LOPEZ) who shows up on the scene. With Lucas in the hospital, Bill takes the blame for the shooting and makes Jackson agree to that, but the guilt of doing so eventually causes him to flee into Mexico to avoid Ramirez who's figured out who's responsible.

Having previously found Fernando's wallet and now knowing where he lives, Jackson hopes to make it there to allow the boy's father to avenge his death, unaware that the grieving man has given up on God and has enlisted a ruthless "coyote," Luis (ANDRES DELGADO), to help him find and kill the gringo.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10

"Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I've gone and thrown it all away."

Freddie Mercury "Bohemian Rhapsody"

When it comes to crime, I'm always going to side with the victim and those close to them, the law enforcement that captures the criminal, and the judicial system that hands down justice. But I sometimes think about the perpetrator -- especially if they're of the first-offense variety -- and contemplate the life they've likely thrown away, especially if the crime they've committed lands them in prison for some extended amount of time.

In committing whatever that crime might be, did they -- even for just a split-second -- consider the ramifications? Or did they break the law on purpose to derail hopes and dreams forced on them by others?

That came to mind -- at least for a while -- while watching "No Man's Land" where Freddie's lyrics above pretty much nail this moment in time for Jackson Greer (Jake Allyn), a young man earmarked for a bright future in major league baseball.

But seemingly content living and working on his family's ranch -- located north of the Texas-Mexico border but south of the border fence -- as much as playing ball, and not appreciating being treated with kid gloves by his parents, Bill (Frank Grillo) and Monica (Andie McDowell), and even his best friend brother, Lucas (Alex MacNicoll), to protect his gift, he decides to help his dad and brother try to get back some valuable cattle stolen from them by Mexicans.

In the ensuing confusing melee, and in the heat of the moment, he ends up shooting and killing a Mexican boy being brought into Texas, along with others, by his father, Gustavo (Jorge A. Jimenez). With a local Texas Ranger (George Lopez) zeroing in on the location of the gunfire, Bill makes him and the others scatter and then takes the blame for the shooting death.

Racked by guilt and realizing the ranger knows he's guilty, Jackson rides into Mexico in another moment of young, rash stupidity. With no plan -- at least initially -- he wanders aimlessly, sort of like the overall film ends up doing until reaching its predictable finale.

He ends up working at a Mexican ranch and befriending the owner, his adult daughter, and the ranch hands, but after a second run-in with a bad-guy coyote (Andres Delgado), he hits the road again. Only to have encounters with other kind and stereotype-busting Mexicans until he eventually figures out and then sets off for his final destination. But he must not only contend with the ranger and coyote being after him, but also the grieving father who wants to avenge his son's death.

The performances are all good as is the cinematography visually depicting the events. And there's potential aplenty in the overall setup, but there's just something off in the way star/screenwriter Jake Allyn and co-writer David Barraza, along with director Conor Allyn (the star's brother) handle the material, or at least in how I reacted to it.

I'm fine with films starting one way and then segueing into something completely different, and characters going through similar transformations, but little of this connected with me on any level. As a result, and to finish out Mr. Mercury's lyrics, "Nothing really matters - nothing really matters to me...Any way the wind blows." Not bad but seemingly not sure about what it wants to be or say about illegal immigration, "No Man's Land" appropriately ends up in the same area for me and thus rates as a 5 out of 10.




Reviewed January 19, 2021 / Posted January 22, 2021


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