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Review: Desierto

Desierto
10.11.2016
8 10

PLOT: As they try to cross the Badlands into the United States, a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico attempt to evade a rifle-toting psychopath determined to make sure they never make it into his country.

REVIEW: Proving the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Jonas Cuaron (son of Alfonso and his co-writer on GRAVITY) exhibits a masterful style with his new film DESIERTO, a thoroughly intense thriller that comes at quite an interesting time for two reasons: The current political climate in the U.S. and the impending debut of The Walking Dead Season 7. The second reason is certainly not as important or of-the-moment as the first, but it matters because both The Walking Dead and DESIERTO boast menacing, attention-grabbing performances from one Jeffrey Dean Morgan. At this point, we should pretty much accept no one can smile with such sinister ferocity as a Jeffrey Dean Morgan villain.

DESIERTO takes an incredibly simple approach to its taut story of a merciless hunter and his frenzied prey. Morgan's character, Sam (unnamed in the actual film) is a hard-drinking pseudo-patriot who does his part for the United States by gunning down illegals crossing over into his country. With a savagely loyal dog by his side, Sam takes to the Badlands of the U.S./Mexico border and picks off frightened immigrants one by one; if he can't get them from afar, he'll do it up close. During the two days DESIERTO spans, Sam finds his work cut out for him when a handful of his targets escape his wrath. The entirety of the film is Sam relentlessly tracking his quarry as they (Gael Garcia Bernal's Moises among them) scramble to figure out what to do. (The answer is, not much.)

Technically, DESIERTO is superb. Gorgeous cinematography simultaneously compliments the beauty of the desert wasteland while also highlighting its near-impossible terrain. When it needs to, Cuaron's camera becomes frantic (running alongside the group as they try to outrun whizzing bullets), but it's always one of the film's main attributes. The sound design is similarly sharp and heightens the chilling cat and mouse game we see play out. It's a film meant to be experienced in a theater.

One complaint I can see being lodged is the lack of character development on either side of the conflict, but it's not a problem for me. There isn't a ton of complexity to Morgan's character; he's simply a maniac with a gun and what he believes is a privilege. "This is my home," he victoriously shouts after a smattering of successful kills. Morgan is an actor who can play scary as well as he can charming (see, naturally, The Walking Dead or Watchmen), but DESIERTO doesn't attempt to get too close to Sam's internal strife. I don't mind that the movie doesn't add layers to the man, even though he is one of our point of view characters. He's single-minded, we know what he's here for, hence his backstory is irrelevant. (A nice touch is that his trusty hunting dog is unimaginatively named Tracker.)

To be fair, there isn't a whole lot of fleshing out done to our protagonists, either. Outside of some minor details they remain fairly unknown to us. But Cuaron isn't interested in character study; this is lean, to-the-point suspense (political undertones notwithstanding), and DESIERTO propels quickly from start to finish like one of the bullets expelled from Morgan's gun. Bernal is always a likable presence, so we're immediately drawn to him as the lead, but the film is content to keep him a largely unexplored individual. But when the bullets are flying, the dog is giving chase, and the desert is providing the rest of the horror, you won't have to work hard to root for him and his small band to survive the ordeal. DESIERTO is an expertly-crafted white-knuckle thriller; prepare for Jonas Cuaron to carve out a name for himself forthwith.

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:42AM on 10/12/2016

Not very original BUT

The film isn't really original, nothing really new in the action BUT the scenes with the dog are awesome, specially the last one.
The film isn't really original, nothing really new in the action BUT the scenes with the dog are awesome, specially the last one.
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2:50AM on 10/12/2016

Wow

Comments below just prove how fucked up Americans are, enjoy president trump whilst the rest of civilisation weep for you.
Comments below just prove how fucked up Americans are, enjoy president trump whilst the rest of civilisation weep for you.
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12:28PM on 10/12/2016
Way to bunch all Americans together. You're a sad individual.
Way to bunch all Americans together. You're a sad individual.
9:11PM on 10/11/2016
Looks like a good flick. Feel sorry for posters on here like the people who commented below. They must have grown up in a terrible environment to have such hatred in them.
Looks like a good flick. Feel sorry for posters on here like the people who commented below. They must have grown up in a terrible environment to have such hatred in them.
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8:45PM on 10/11/2016
Glad to read the positive review despite the controversial storyline. Huge fan of Morgan and am glad to see him getting more recognition.

And yes, based off the storyline, I believe that his character is the protagonist as well.
Glad to read the positive review despite the controversial storyline. Huge fan of Morgan and am glad to see him getting more recognition.

And yes, based off the storyline, I believe that his character is the protagonist as well.
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5:22PM on 10/11/2016
Depressing to see alt-right psychopaths infiltrating joblo.
Depressing to see alt-right psychopaths infiltrating joblo.
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4:11PM on 10/11/2016

Psychopath? Nope. Good guy.

I agree with jack deaths post below, the guy with the gun is the good guy. Killing illegal immigrants before they can enter the country and fuck it up even more is the work of a good guy. And to the naīve liberal pussies who are offended and don't like what I have to say, U can go fuck your self with a sliver infested broom handle raw dog for all I care. Please give me a thumbs down so I can know I offended ur delicate sensibilities. I'm on team America. Not team political correctness.
I agree with jack deaths post below, the guy with the gun is the good guy. Killing illegal immigrants before they can enter the country and fuck it up even more is the work of a good guy. And to the naīve liberal pussies who are offended and don't like what I have to say, U can go fuck your self with a sliver infested broom handle raw dog for all I care. Please give me a thumbs down so I can know I offended ur delicate sensibilities. I'm on team America. Not team political correctness.
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4:36PM on 10/11/2016
Sorry, thumbs up. Glad both of you posted. Which broke the law first, not the pschopath....
Sorry, thumbs up. Glad both of you posted. Which broke the law first, not the pschopath....
6:16PM on 10/11/2016
Dumb
Dumb
1:11AM on 10/12/2016
I'm not sure being an illegal immigrant makes you a bad guy and murdering them a good guy. But if you think murdering people who cross a border illegally is the proper punishment for such a crime, then yes, you're a psychopath.
I'm not sure being an illegal immigrant makes you a bad guy and murdering them a good guy. But if you think murdering people who cross a border illegally is the proper punishment for such a crime, then yes, you're a psychopath.
2:08PM on 10/11/2016
I've seen it. It's good. Morgan's character is actually the protagonist.
I've seen it. It's good. Morgan's character is actually the protagonist.
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