DVD Review: Border Town (2009)

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Now conventional wisdom says that when you're in Mexico-- in order to steer clear of Montezuma's revenge-- your best bet is to avoid drinking water at all costs.  Yet then again, if you've been tracking the ruthless man who kidnapped your daughter five years ago from the swing-set roughly twenty feet from where you stood preoccupied on a cellular phone and you knew you were going to engage in a whole western guns-blazing showdown at dawn scenario--I'm not sure your greatest liquid preparation would be spending all night tossing back mescal, tequila, and endless amounts of booze.

However, I'm not the heroic vengeance seeking lead with a prize on his head worth-- as he says a few "double wides"-- who's so notorious he's actually just dubbed "The Gringo," so maybe for actor Mark Joy's character Vincent (whose name I actually learned from the press release since in the film, he's usually just called "The Gringo") the alcohol is like spinach for Popeye.

Basically, Border Town is an independent Tex-Mex version of Taken from Maverick Entertainment Group Incorporated and director Chris Allen Williams. Following a prologue that reminded me initially of Red Rock West as our Gringo's car is broken down on the side of the road before he engages in some unexpectedly violent combat with a trashy cop and diner owner looking to collect the money for turning him in-- the movie picks up a bit after an over-the-top bloody sequence when he gives his TV movie line of "you tell 'em I'm comin'!" And surprisingly, the movie manages to grab you with a cool graphic-novel style credit sequence.

A simple story simply told and one that hearkens back to bare bones westerns of a girl gone missing-- it's definitely not The Searchers or Taken for that matter but it's an entertaining, modest diversion. Furthermore, it nicely doesn't take itself too seriously and in order for us not to question some of the logical gaps-- Border Town is set over the course of one very long night.   In the film, The Gringo crashes at a cantina/brothel in Solo, Mexico run by the shady Antonio (Gary Wade Morton) who sends his beautiful nineteen year old niece Isabella (Linda Rodriguez) up to keep the man occupied while they warn Santo (Ricardo Melindez)-- the head of the human trafficking organization holding his daughter Vanessa (Playboy model Joy Glass) captive as the leader's favorite "angel" whom he can turn on in a moment's notice.

However, since Isabella is the same age as Vanessa, The Gringo spurns her advances and the two form a bond over alcohol and confessions in opposite languages that neither one understands which will be important in the morning when the shooting begins as he's told Santo that he's not going to leave Solo without Vanessa and without killing the man who took her from him.

Since ultimately we're presented with one man and a nineteen year old girl who doesn't understand what he's talking about working together-- it's fairly easy to root for our hero but we're left with a lot of questions regarding his background such as how he managed to track down Vanessa, what he'd actually done for a living, and some of the film's "convenient" devices like running into a boy who'd been badly scarred by Santo as another abducted angel who gives him a redundant pep talk that seem a bit overdone.

Rodriguez refreshingly makes the most out of a thankless role and she manages to help ensure the final showdown is exciting indeed, even though we're not sure we completely buy the idea that one man in a street against so many could manage to get out of the situation so quickly... but then again it could've been all that mescal and tequila.

Production values for the home of our villain Santo seemed fairly impressive and the budget is definitely kept on the cheap as overall the film would've required less than a half dozen sets maximum with very few cast mates overall in what essentially feels like a higher caliber version of one of those films made for Spike TV.

But while the trailer and film's official website promises excellent beauty in the color scheme and cinematography, I'm afraid I can't offer much of an opinion as far as that's concerned since unfortunately due to copy-protection reasons the screener that Maverick Films was kind enough to send my way didn't move from black and white to color throughout but remained in black and white for 95% of the movie.

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