‘Border Run’ Tries Hard but Lacks Cohesion and Depth

[24 March 2013]

By Dorothy Burk

Trust No One is the tagline for Border Run. It’s a tired old cliché, and so is the movie. Recently released on DVD, Border Run promises that it’s a gritty tale about a right-wing news reporter from Arizona who ventures south of the border to find her brother, who’s in big trouble with drug-and-people smugglers.

Sofie Talbert (Sharon Stone) is completely unlikable from the very beginning of the film. Maybe it’s her bad wig; maybe it’s her bad attitude. Either way, our ability to sympathize with her metamorphosis throughout the film is destroyed by the fact that there’s nothing about her to like or pity in the first place. Stone’s overacting is truly unbearable through much of the film, leaving us to wonder what happened to her after Casino

As the movie opens, we see Aaron Talbert (Billy Zane) running along the Mexico-US border in the Arizona desert with a group of immigrants who want to enter the country sin papeles. It’s a typical, formulaic scene, so it comes as no surprise that the whole group is shot at by an unknown somebody and that Talbert is forced to his knees by a very bad guy with a gun. The film’s first big mistake happens right here, when we notice that the very bad guy (who we can safely presume is a coyote, or smuggler of people) doesn’t notice that a small group of his clients have simply disappeared into a small desert chapel. That chapel becomes really important towards the end of the movie, where we have to shake our head and wonder how the very bad guys can be brilliant smugglers and complete idiots at the same time.

The film’s very tired beginning happens eight hours before we meet Sofie, So we rewind to Arizona, where newswoman Sofie is busy trying to destroy the reputation of a generally conservative senator who once voted for amnesty. She has one moment of seeming humanity and decides to call her brother who we learn—duh da duh—provides relief to illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border. Sofie’s call just happens to coincide with the movie’s opening scene. She hears the commotion out in the desert and gets worried when her brother doesn’t answer any of her subsequent calls. She tries calling the organization that he works for, but she doesn’t get the answers that she’s looking for. What does she do?

The logical thing, of course: She heads to Mexico to talk to the police about it. And what happens? Of course the police don’t care and don’t let her file a missing person’s report. This leads Sofie to the offices of the aid organization where her brother works. She befriends his coworker, Roberto (Manolo Cardona), who offers to help her find Aaron. For the next hour, we’re taken on a whirlwind journey of poverty in Mexico and the process of making the border crossing without official sanction from the US government. We meet Javier (Miguel Rodarte), a coyote who promises to help Sofie find her brother. We also meet bad-ass human smuggler Juanita (Giovanna Zacarías) and the very bad guys with whom she works.

Of course, we also meet hopeful immigrants Maria (Olga Segura), Rafael (Rosemberg Salgado) and Luz (Shelem Oteo). Sofie bonds with these would-be immigrants while they’re stuck in a truck together and endures a drop of the horror that they endure at the hands of human smugglers. She experiences the reality of rape and sex trafficking first-hand via oddly edited sequences that don’t work to horrify us like they should. In fact, many of the movie’s scenes should be touching, but they just aren’t. Stone’s overacting and the simplistic portrayals of the bad guys make it hard for us to feel like we aren’t stuck in a bad Stallone movie.

After a lot of running around in the desert and half-hearted intrigue, Sofie winds up in a Customs and Immigration office in Arizona. She’s interrogated and let go only to run into Roberto outside. By now we know that he’s not the guy that he seems to be (trust no one, remember?) and we’re disappointed in Sofie when she gets in his truck. The last few scenes of the movie take what seems to be an eternity to unfold. Honestly, it would be better if someone we were supposed to like had died. As it is, the movie continues on in its misguided path until we finally reach the happy ending where Sofie is a changed woman, Aaron is safe and a poor little Mexican girl has been rescued by a nice white lady.

What could have been a movie about what immigrants without papers face—and why they’re willing to face it—is instead an incoherent, poorly acted film that only holds appeal for those individuals whose heads are truly in the clouds. Stone and Zane put forth mediocre performances in a movie that wants to be about big immigration issues but lacks any depth. Even the sympathy that we can feel for the suffering border crossers is interrupted by editing that wants to be dreamlike but is ultimately jerky and disconnected.

Without any bonus features to talk about the true story on which the movie is supposedly based, the DVD loses any credibility it might have had. The only thing about the tagline that rings true? You really shouldn’t trust anyone.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/169588-border-run-tries-hard-but-lacks-cohesion-and-depth/