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First rule when you try to do a realistic, historical movie is that you indeed keep things realistic and stick to the truth. I'm not necessarily saying the movie is spreading lies, after all, I'm not an expert on the Cristeros war and won't pretend to be but the movie does feel too much like an one sided story, in which everything gets depicted in a very black & white style. The good guys are all extremely good and kind and the bad guys all extremely evil. It forces things onto the viewer, in indeed a too forced and ham-handed way. This definitely goes at the expense of the overall realism and credibility of the movie.

The way it forces some of its story on to you doesn't only make its story hard to get into but also the storytelling itself ensures this. It for instance throws in too many needless plot lines, in which, for instance, it shows the courage and sacrifices women had to make. In others it does the same for children. Stuff like this only distracts from its main plot line and due to the way it gets forced into the movie, it's also incredibly ineffective.

That's probably the biggest problem of the movie; it doesn't ever become a very engaging film experience. I just can't imaging anyone feeling involved with any of the events or characters, while watching this movie. There's nothing that you'll ever make you cheer or cry, unless you are easily taken by false and forced emotions.

But the reason why most of the stuff feels forced and ineffective is not just because of its story and storytelling but also really due to its overall directing style. Perhaps no big surprise, seeing how this movie was Dean Wright's directorial debut. It never feels focused enough and there is never really a pleasant enough flow to the overall movie. it never allows its characters or true drama to develop, since it feels more concerned about being a fast paced movie, that never slows down for anything. This also of course becomes apparent with its editing, that completely destroys some of the scenes and emotions for this movie.

It's not like I totally hated watching this movie but I can see why it has such a bad reputation and why there is also even some hate toward it. It simplifies everything, up to a point that the movie ultimately even becomes quite ridicules at parts, especially toward the end, when its religious themes start to kick in even more.

But really, the most annoying and bad aspect about this movie remains how incredibly black & white it's being with its story. This would had been fine for, lets say, a more entertainment oriented production but this movie is pretending to be way more than that. But then why villainize the government in such a ridicules and forced way? The soldiers don't just randomly execute and kill men, rape women and torture children but they also smile while doing so.

I'm still not sure if I should blame Andy Garcia for anything. I'm sure of it that Enrique Gorostieta is some sort of well known and respected historical figure, in Mexican history but I just never got the sense of that while watching this movie. It's such an incredibly bland character, that Garcia is playing. You never really get behind his motivations and reasoning, or see why he got picked to be the leader of the Cristeros. It's hard to say if any of this could be blamed on Garcia's actual acting but fact remains that Andy Garcia comes across bad in this. Maybe he was just miscast and some other, more charismatic, actor would had done a better but somehow I doubt this.

Oh and great job recycling some of your old music again James Horner!

Still, I honestly didn't dislike this movie bad enough to hate it as well. Yes, it does basically everything wrong but still it is never quite bad enough to consider this movie a completely unwatchable one. Still can't think off any good reasons why you should watch this movie but at the same time, there are far worse movies you could watch. The movie does still has its moments and thing I can also say about it, is that it never really bores.

5/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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