BY THE COMMANDER
1 (out of 4 stars)
In the 1994 film, Surviving the Game, a group of wealthy businessman who are hunters got bored of hunting animals, so they decided to hunt humans as their prey. This film had a great cast: Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, F. Murry Abraham, Charles S. Dutton and Ice-T as the prey. It was an action-adventure film that started out slow, but got more intense with well-written characters.
Now in 2016, director/co-writer Jonás Cuarón (Gravity, and son of Alphonso Cuarón) recreates this theme with his new film, Desierto, which is Spanish for desert. It's pretty close to the same subject matter, but with a different premise. This time around, Mexicans are illegally trying to cross the desert, seeking a new life in America, but encounter resistance from a local redneck. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Sam, the rifle toting, pickup truck driving, Texas redneck who, along with his trusty German Shepherd, ‘Tracker’, takes on the illegal task of stopping the border crossings. So with his trusty rifle in hand, he hunts down the Mexicans and shoots them dead, one by one, just like you would shoot an animal.
The problem with this movie is that there is nothing to it. Other than one young Mexican man Moises (Gael García Bernal) who's trying to make his way (with a teddy bear) back to his son in the U.S.A., we really never get to know anyone else other than Sam. Moises says to a girl: “I’m sorry about your friend (being killed).” Her reply: “Don’t worry, I barely knew him.” And that’s exactly the point. We never get to know any of the characters. Additionally, even though this is an English speaking film, 90% of the spoken language is in Spanish with English subtitles.
The movie goes nowhere. It's just a hunting movie. Sam and Tracker chase after the Mexicans, and with his rifle, shoots them dead one at a time. There's nothing else to this movie, unless you consider the thrilling one-sided conversation from Sam: “Go get ‘em, Tracker!” or “Good dog.”
This is the type of film you can leave after the first 10 minutes, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, take a smoke break, come back an hour later, and you haven't missed anything. You may have missed the first 10 killings, but there are many left.
This is a very slow, boring, repetitious movie. While the subject matter may be distasteful, the film itself is not entertaining. This is the type of movie I would put in the background while I painted a wall. There was very little to see on the screen other than the occasional dog chase or turkey shoot. I guess there may be some hidden theme about surviving in a ‘hostile’ desert. Even if that’s the underlying story, it doesn’t change the actual film. It’s just plain boring.