SYNOPSIS: From Jonás Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed filmmakers of Gravity, comes the modern, heart-pounding suspense-thriller starring Golden Globe winner Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle, Y Tu Mamá También) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead, Watchmen). What begins as a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border. In the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain, the odds are stacked firmly against them as they continuously discover there's nowhere to hide from the unrelenting, merciless killer.
There’s a certain expectation from Desierto especially when it comes from Jonas Cuaron, son of Alfonso, the award-winning director of Gravity. However to enjoy this movie, first of all you need to dial down your expectations as in way down.
Desierto is overly simplistic and pretty bare perhaps the Cuarons like to make things simple for the audiences. Just liked Gravity, his co-written effort with his father, the movie spent no effort in introducing the two main characters. What you have in the end is a taut, tense thriller, set in the harsh, barren desert full of cactus, stones under a scorching sun.
Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries) plays Moises, an illegal immigrant who hopes to cross over to America in a truck with several others. But unfortunately the truck broke down before the border and they have to continue the rest of the journey on foot. Since all bad things come in threes, the illegal immigrants are one by one hunted and shot by a rifle-carrying stranger, Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his equally ruthless canine, Tracker.
Desierto has so much potential in conveying relevant social messages given that President Trump has famously declare building a wall to stop the influx of illegal immigrants. Instead of delivering something that socio-political scholars will be proud of, Jonas Cuaron made an effective cat-and-mouse thriller that will please both the hardcore action fanbase and angering every dog lover out there at the same time.
None of the nameless Mexican actors and actresses featured here has much of a screentime. They are simply presented here as live targets for Sam. As for Sam, Cuaron has no interest in giving audiences a convincing explanation why he has such hatred for illegal immigrants. Is he psychologically wrong somewhere or is he being an unlawful enforcer? Of course Jeffrey Dean Morgan is in his Negan mode so don’t ever cross sword with him. Bernal on the other hand probably could play Moises in his sleep. Consider he is also one of the executive producers and running his ass off for most of the screentime, we have to forgive him for juggling two hats.
At the end of the day, this feature length directorial debut by Jonas Cuaron is purely an escapade. It provides solid thrills and a lush cinematography that features the grand desert of Mexico and nothing else. Don’t be surprised if President Trump might one day endorse this.
The sole extra here is a Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer/Producer Jonás Cuarón. If you are expecting a lot of insights into the whole movie, you can safely skip this because there isn’t.
The DVD 5.1 audio track boasts an excellent display of gunshots zipping across the room and video quality never disappoints as well. Facial and terrain imaging is top-notch and it’s an added bonus that all of the action sequences took place in broad daylight.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee