No Man's Land (Western, Adventure, Thriller) (2020)
Director: Conor Allyn
Writer: Jake Allyn, David Barraza
Stars: Frank Grillo, Jake Allyn, Jorge A. Jimenez, George Lopez
On the edge of the American/Mexican border, the Greer family is frequently beset by Mexican immigrants running amuck. Due to their harassments, they lose livestock, having to brave the dry wildland around their ranch in search of the lost cattle. As the Greer's are rooting the last missing cows, they run into the same immigrant family that caused their problems to begin with. As the rising tensions have been brewing between these culturally different families, circumstances turn fatal as the law is taken into their own hands and son Jackson (Jake Allyn) ends up running to Mexico, away from Officer Ramirez.
Pitting the two families against each other in a typically American feud, "No Man's Land" isn't just an example of a modern style western but, at the same time, a journey of discovery and shifting perspective of a short-sighted rancher's son. It's some of its plot twists that make the film fun, entertaining and approachable despite not being a standout. With its revelation of intellectual growth and compassion does come an abundance of oversimplification and shallowness. Much of the story balances on overdone antagonism by the Mexican father and some ratty looking tattooed kid. "No Man's Land" is a pleasant surprise. Still, with less hostility of the antagonistic roles, the picture would've been much clearer and perhaps more enjoyable to a wider audience.
While performances were more than decent it’s for the best that some roles didn't get much attention, as Frank Grillo playing the Greer families father Bill and George Lopez as Officer Ramirez took most of the screen time apart from Jake Allyn played the main character logically. But even in the most prominent roles, I missed some depth in for example the emotion that would’ve been paired with losing a child, whether that'd be them dying at a young age or spending years in a penitentiary. Allyn's work as the rancher's son worked best in Mexico's interactions, struggling with the language barrier never really grasping more than a few words. The confrontation with Mexican culture and the Spanish language was one of the most well-done points in the film.
As a whole, I didn't expect to be so pleasantly surprised; the mentioned antagonism and shabby acting are easily the worst parts. Yet, the overall cinematography and most used actors worked convincingly; despite the critique by fans and critics alike, I would still recommend this feature to drama and western movie lovers.
To some, this land would be preferred lifeless and barren, but I'd start inhabiting the border and see if we can find more films like this.