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DESIERTO | Movie Review

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Gael Garcia Bernal stars in DESIERTO | © 2016 STX Films

Survival of the quickest!

Whether or not DESIERTO’s release was strategic considering sensitive immigration issues (and where we are in this presidential election) we’ll never know. However, timing is everything. For sure this film’s timing will do two things: one, rattle a cage with its narrative and two, giving the world a glimpse once again at just how much of a villain Jeffery Dean Morgan can be as we tip-toe closer to the release of THE WALKING DEAD’s seventh season. One having nothing to do with the other, it’s a spectrum perhaps only I probably noticed.

That said, DESIERTO begins as a hopeful, yet harsh schlep to seek a better life. However, it quickly becomes a horrifying and primal fight for survival (Gael Garcia Bernal) when a deranged vigilante (Jeffery Dean Morgan) chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border. Seeking refuge in such tough terrain, the odds are stacked against them as they become aware there’s nowhere to hide from the malicious killer.

Off the bat, DESIERTO is an action-thriller first and foremost. The rest is up to the viewer to interpret. Far from any social and/or political setting, Jonás Cuarón’s overall scope for the film is experiencing “now,” rather than exposing a reasoning “past.” Therefore, lacking any build-up. It, however, manages to engage all the way through considering we never really know much about any of the characters, including what Morgan’s motives really were – opportunist, or racist. Intense and exhausting, its haunting exposure of dreadful, survival journeys and unwelcoming behavior IS terrifying. Not sure how the audience will take this, but the film’s grit and style makes a harsh statement.


Grade: B / Genre: Action-Adventure, Drama / Rated: R / Run Time: 1:30
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffery Dean Morgan
Directed by: Jonás Cuarón

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