Review: Save yourself the trip to 'No Man's Land'
Western thriller bogged down by heavy-handed messaging
A promising young baseball prospect is a few days away from his tryout with the Yankees when he finds himself embroiled in a heated chase below the border in "No Man's Land," a lugheaded Western thriller delivered on a bed of clichés.
Director Conor Allyn helms this tale about a family who lives on a Texas ranch near where the Rio Grande creates a gap between the U.S. and Mexico, an area known as No Man's Land. A late night run-in with a group of border-crossers changes the fate of Jackson (Jake Allyn, the director's brother, who co-wrote the script), the budding Jeter-to-be, and sends the film spiraling into a web of conveniences and contrivances that eventually give way to a hammy message of unity and understanding.
After Jackson hastily pulls the trigger on a young boy on the family's property late at night, his father Bill (Frank Grillo) attempts to reshape the narrative and take the fall for his son. Things aren't quite adding up for Ramirez (George Lopez), a Texas Ranger investigating the case, and when he goes to question him, Jackson flees across the border on his horse with nothing but the clothes on his back.
He's chased by Ramirez as well as the boy's father, Gustavo (Jorge A. Jimenez), and Luis (Andrés Delgado), a bad dude with a blonde dye-job and an attitude. While on the road, he meets Victoria (Esmeralda Pimentel), whose family takes him in and provides him with food and shelter. What began as Jackson's escape attempt becomes a quest for spiritual redemption and forgiveness, which is delivered with a heavy hand and a bucket of cheese.
"No Man's Land" is well-intentioned but the clumsy machinations of the overly simplified script render it difficult to buy into, and its telegraphed moralizing disappears into a cloud of dust.
'No Man's Land'
Rated PG-13: for some strong violence and language
Running time: 115 minutes