Monday, November 23, 2015

Mini-review: Cartel Land (2015)

Perhaps the scariest, most effective thing about this documentary is the fact that not only does it not have an ending, but there appears to be none in sight.

Following a group of Mexican civilian vigilantes out to fight the drug cartels and corrupt government controlling their country, this film doesn't tell a story as much as it paints a picture: A bleak picture. I'm genuinely uncertain as to how much of the footage here was real and how much was staged, because there have been few films to put you so close to gunfire and chaos as this. The effect is both shocking, and in the strangest sense, a release. There's something almost cathartic about being able to vicariously let out your aggression through these people who have finally had enough of being strongarmed and forced into a life of fear and poverty. The corruption and evil these people have witnessed is almost too much to imagine, and to finally see people fighting back against an unjust system is a welcome sight...up to a point. You see, the film doesn't simply leave it at this. It digs deeper and raises questions on morality and justice. In a challenging moment, this group is confronted by an outside community of enraged civilians and we begin to find ourselves asking, in the end, are they doing more harm than they are good? For in many ways, when you fight fire with fire, you run the risk of burning everything to the ground. There are no easy answers, but the questions will linger in your mind long after the final shots are fired.

RATING: 8/10