Title – Cartel Land (2015)
Director – Matthew Heineman (Our Time)
Cast – José Manuel ‘El Doctor’ Mireles, Tim “Nailer” Foley
Plot – A documentary look at the cartel infested streets of Mexico and how everyday citizens like Mexican local Jose Manuel Mireles and American citizen Tim Foley have decided to take matters into their own hands by starting up respective vigilante groups to combat the increasing threats of the cartel gangs.
“I believe what I am doing is good. And I believe what I’m standing up against is evil”
Review by Eddie on 7/07/2016
If anyone was ever under any doubt that the country of Mexico is one seriously messed up place then showing them Cartel Land would be a good way to prove a point as Matthew Heineman’s unflinching documentary looking at the land bordering the United States is a telling piece of documentary filmmaking that offers us a glimpse of life in the war torn streets of the drug fuelled land.
Nominated at this year’s Oscar ceremony in the best documentary feature film category and co-produced by Oscar nominated filmmaker Kathryn Bigalow, Cartel Land offers a wide ranging look the world of cartels and corruption that runs rife through Mexico by giving us access to the cartels themselves, those trying to defend their country in the form of the well intentioned Autodefensa and also American citizens who patrol their towns borders as vigilantes trying their best to discourage the drug and people smuggling cartels from using their land as an easy access point to the land of freedom.
Juggling all these different components is no easy task and director Heineman does struggle at time for fluidity in his tale that can at times jar the viewer’s interest. Cartel Land also finds difficulties in giving us a centralized figure to be our lead through this violent, chaotic and confusing landscape even though Mexican local and the vigilante leader of the Autodefensa José Manuel ‘El Doctor’ Mireles is an intriguing and multilayered persona.
Cartel Land is at its most powerful when it brings the audience into the thick of the action and chaos that inhabits the daily lives of many Mexicans caught up in the illegal activity that runs rampant around them and whether its horrific stories of cartel atrocities (the film is not for the faint of heart), real life shootouts or Breaking Bad like meth cook ups, Cartel Land isn’t afraid to show it how it is and paints a horrific picture of everyday life in a country that has lost its sense of purpose.
With its roots planted in the midst of terrifying situations, Cartel Land is often powerful viewing that is hampered by a clouded sense of direction. For a no holds barred look at life on the front of line of drug cartel fuelled life however, Cartel Land will make for shocking and eye opening viewing for many who would rather forget that the land so close to America is well and truly a day to day warzone.
3 Papa Smurf’s out of 5