Alas, Road to Juarez is not a reboot of the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby film series, but another pedestrian entry into the “petty criminals get in way over their heads” subgenre of crime drama. There are clever ways to use time jumps in a film, but when you use five of them in the first 10 minutes (“20 years ago,” “Six weeks ago,” “Two days from now,” “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …”), you are unnecessarily trying to confuse your audience in what turns out to be a pretty conventional narrative about friendship, kidnapping, and Mexican drug cartels. Jacob (Perez) and Robbie (Koontz) are shown in flashback stealing sodas and cupcakes in L.A., as kids, before we snap to the present day when they hook up with Robbie’s uncle, Doug (Forsythe), who hips them to his business of stealing film equipment from sets, and that escalates into a kidnapping problem involving the wife of an incarcerated cartel kingpin. It seems some disgruntled henchmen are upset that their druglord is going legit, so they kidnap Robbie and the kingpin’s son, and the rest of the film follows Jacob and co. trying to track them down. Look, any film that has a father/daughter police team (pretty sure any department would want to shy away from that coupling), and lines of dialogue such as “he’s a jack-off, but he’s OK,” is in desperate need of revisions. Add to that subplots involving cocaine hidden in taxidermied animals, and double-triple-quadruple crosses, and you have the makings of a half-baked thriller that looks pretty good (that second-unit stuff in Mexico City is tight) and performances that aren’t half-bad, but at the end of the day it’s some neo-noir nonsense that makes those post-Tarantino movies from the mid-Nineties look like Chinatown. No mames.
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