Dir: Chris Peckover
Star: Scott Mechlowicz, Alona Tal, Peter Stormare, Yancey Arias

In which a brave band of patriots, led by the indefatigable 'Z' (Stormare), take a stand against the tidal-wave of illegals bent on sneaking into America in flagrant defiance of the rule of law, with the aim of making an example to dissuade others from following. What? That's not the story here? It's actually about a group of documentary film-makers, following said immigrants, who are kidnapped by the radical group and forced to film the torture and execution of the migrants? Hey, you take from the film what you want, and I'll do the same. That's the problem. Having gone through the process the 'right' way, I just don't have much sympathy for those who opt to bypass the law for selfish ends (and, yes - so you can make more money is a selfish end). While I don't exactly advocate turning illegal immigrants, into live organ donors, as happens here, I'm not be averse to, say, a nice electric-fence. This movie portrays them as almost heroic, and those who seek to stop them as psychotic, racist sadists. Yeah. No points for political subtlety here.

While I'm not sure I reacted to this in quite the way the makers intended, at least I did react, and that's more than can be said for most of the torture-porn genre. Stormare given an impressively excessive performance, especially given his face is hidden for almost the entire movie, and there's a twisted sensibility occasionally on view here that can only be applauded, e.g. forcing the illegals to answer the American citizenship test, on pain of... Well, you'll see. Less successful are the faux documentary aspects, which have been skating on thin ice since Blair Witch, as far as we're concerned, and outstay their welcome here, especially in a nausea-inducing escape attempt. Though credit the writers, they at least came up with a decent explanation for it - the crew need the cameras' night-vision to see where they're going.

Beyond Stormare, the rest of the performances are much of a muchness, and none of the crew - or the migrants - stand out. It's one of those films where you find yourself thinking of ways that it could have been better, instead of playing up preconceptions in the most obvious of fashions. For example, by having one of the crew vocally opposed to illegal immigration, or making one of the racists Hispanic [and if you think that's a stretch, you've clearly never heard my Cuban mother-in-law talking about Puerto Ricans...] The closest this gets is an largely unproven allegation one of the migrants is a drug smuggler, but otherwise, despite an admirably in-your-face approach, this is more interested in confirming existing (mostly liberal) prejudices on the topic, not challenging then.

[November 2011]

What part of 'illegal' is
in any way unclear?
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