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Earnest ‘No Man’s Land’ Avoids Open Border Lectures

Most Hollywood fare tackling immigration observe the identical playbook.

Open borders good. Law and order unhealthy.

We’ve seen it in TV exhibits, documentaries and have movies of late, and it’s more likely to proceed deep into President Joe Biden’s administration.

“No Man’s Land” offers a distinct perspective. The drama exhibits the calamitous results of unlawful border crossings in addition to the hardships Mexican immigrants endure en path to the U.S. That’s refreshing, but “No Man’s Land” lacks the dramatic urgency a story of its form calls for.

The Greer household owns a ranch alongside the Texas-Mexico border, and the most recent incursion by unlawful immigrants rocks their wobbly funds. Some Greer cattle ran off after the immigrants broke the ranch’s fencing, setting the household again 1000’s.

So Papa Greer (Frank Grillo) and his teen sons set off to Mexico to deliver their steer again. They run into a bunch of unlawful immigrants, and gunfire erupts after one of many immigrants assaults the household with a knife. A Mexican boy is killed and one of many teen Greers is critically wounded.

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Jackson Greer (Jake Allyn) fired the shot that hit the Mexican lad, however Grillo’s patriarch tells the police he by chance killed the boy. Jackson, consumed by grief and confusion, flees deep into Mexico after an area sheriff (an efficient George Lopez) suspects the reality behind the lie.

One cause “No Man’s Land” lacks emotional heft is the best way it clings to, and but avoids, the progressive narrative on immigration. We’re meant to look at Jackson join with Mexican folks, and their tradition, and see him push previous his prejudices.

Bigot Sees the Light.

It’s an affordable, if cliched, narrative echoing fashionable Hollywood tropes.

Yet Jackson is not any bigot, neither is his household. Sure, they resent the immigrants streaming onto their property and wrecking havoc on their ranch and livelihood.

Wouldn’t you?

They aren’t anti-Mexican or racist, a minimum of not proven right here. In reality, an early scene exhibits Jackson permitting a younger unlawful immigrant to flee, a robust act of kindness.

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So the place’s the character arc?

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Even Jackson’s brother (Alex MacNicoll) has sympathy for the illegals streaming into the nation. He gently explains to Jackson how “starvation” could make somebody threat all the things, even their lives.

Sound hateful to you? 

That leaves us with two unfolding tales. Jackson meets a sequence of Mexicans throughout his impromptu journey — some heat and welcoming, others far much less so. Once once more “No Man’s Land” avoids saintly stereotypes.

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The different story includes Jorge A. Jimenez as Gustavo, the daddy of the slain boy. Gustavo vows to make Jackson pay for his crime. The father is joined by Luis (Andres Delgado), a inventory film villain who nonetheless breathes vitality into each scene he’s in.

That subplot awkwardly interrupts the primary story, demanding foolish plot contrivances to maintain it going. Far higher is seeing Jackson, a pitching prospect with a Yankees tryout looming, discover his creature comforts erased all through his journey.

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“No Man’s Land” is a household affair, directed by Conor Allyn and starring brother Jake Allyn, who co-wrote the script. The Texas natives deliver some welcome specificity to the story, notably with the Greer household early within the movie.

The Mexican clan will get much less particulars, however the story permits for the total spectrum of their grief in a method many films keep away from. 

Immigration tales demand each empathy and steadiness, one thing the Allyns ship over and once more with their movie, regardless of its flaws.

HiT or Miss: “No Man’s Land” is earnest to a fault, however its willingness to air each side of the immigration debate isn’t sufficient to advocate it.

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