(director: Conor Allyn; screenwriters: Jake Allyn, David Barraza; cinematographer: Juan Pablo Ramírez; editor: Christine Park/Curtiss Clayton; music: Brooke & Will Blair/Andrea Gonzalez Caballero; cast: Jake Allyn (Jackson Greer), Frank Grillo (Bill Greer), Jorge A. Jimenez (Gustavo), Alex MacNicoll (Lucas Greer), Andrés Delgado (Luis), Ofelia Medina (Lupe), Esmerelda Pimentel (Victoria), Andie MacDowell (Monica Greer); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Conor, Jake and Rob Allyn/Joel Shapiro/Victor Almeida; IFC Films; 2021)

“Clumsily made.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An earnest but clumsily made and thinly drawn out character study set at the Mexican-Texas border, where illegals cross. It’s directed by Conor Allyn (“ExPatriot”/”Forsaken”), and is written by the star Jake Allyn, the director’s brother, and David Barraza.

The hot baseball pitching prospect Jackson Greer (Jake Allyn) is offered a contract by a Yankee scout on a visit to his family ranch. But he upsets his financially struggling parents, Bill (Frank Grillo) and Monica (Andie MacDowell), by telling them that he would rather work on their ranch than pursue a lucrative ball career.

Trouble brews when Mexican immigrants cross the “no man’s land” between the Rio Grande and the Greer property, and there’s a standoff between the hostile foes.

When a young Mexican boy (Alessio Valentini) pulls a switchblade on Jackson, the white man panics and shoots the brown-skinned boy. Jackson’s brother Luke (Alex MacNicoll) is hospitalized after the incident, while Jackson flees the sheriff on his horse Sundance with the vic’s father (Jorge A. Jimenez) chasing him into Mexico on his truck.

The brothers try hard to make a good movie to calm the current immigration frictions between whites and Mexicans, but fail to come up with either a good or calming one.

The veteran George Lopez, playing an officious Texas Ranger who speaks no Spanish, enlivens things with his fine performance. Jorge A. Jimenez as the father of the murdered boy convincingly brings on his pent-up rage over the border incident. Andres Delgado is the film’s obnoxious punk bad guy. He provoked the shootout. In the film’s most exciting scene, Delgado stops the bus carrying Jackson and threatens the passengers.

Jackson spends the third act in Mexico evading all of the following: the law, the grieving father and the ruthless coyote. He also finds time for a cautious romance with a Mexican rancher’s pretty daughter (Esmerelda Pimentel). Nothing much gets cleared up despite its good intentions. But the acting was pretty good, and the minor film was watchable and topical.

      Mans Land

REVIEWED ON 1/28/2021  GRADE: C+