A modern Western inspired by the real-life “no man’s land” areas along the Texas-Mexico border. While out on a father-son border patrol, Jackson accidentally kills a Mexican immigrant boy. When Jackson’s father tries taking the blame, Jackson flees south on horseback, becoming a gringo “illegal alien” in Mexico. Chased by Texas Rangers and Mexican federales, Jackson journeys across Mexico to seek forgiveness from the dead boy’s father only to fall in love with the land he was taught to hate.
In a world where the wall was being built and illegally crossing Mexicans are thought to be less than human, “No Man’s Land” delves into the changing attitudes of one ranching family who’s land is at the Mexican border. Jackson (Jake Allyn), a star baseball pitcher whose future in college ball or even the pros looked quite promising. His parents Bill (Frank Grillo) and Monica (Andie MacDowell) want nothing more than for their prodigy to get out of the ranching life, but it’s in his blood. A chance encounter with a group of Mexicans who were thought to have stolen steer leaves one young boy dead; shot by Jackson. His guilt is more than he can handle as he crossing the border and learns about the Mexican culture and the people he had once loathed and feared.
“No Man’s Land” is as straight forward as you can get. Jackson learns about the Mexico, the inhabitants, and the inequities as well as his own prejudices. We see him change as he questions his upbringing. It’s a predictable story, but a welcomed one as the film sheds a light on perceptions. Allyn competently performs in his role but it is George Lopez as a Texas Ranger that adds credibility to the story. With moments of preposterous situations from the father seeking vengeance to his lackey who has an ax to grind, the story takes an unnecessary detour that detracts from the sincerity of the message.
2 1/2 Stars
To be sure, the subject matter in this film from director Conor Allyn couldn’t be more timely as it takes a long hard look at the hot button immigration issue, the prejudices that have sprung up around it and the misconceptions that accompany it. There are certainly effective moments in this walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes fable, but they get bogged down by a story that’s needlessly complicated and a running time that ultimately taxes the viewer’s patience. There’s a good 100 minute movie in here somewhere – you just have to sift through far too many extraneous scenes to find it.
2 1/2 Stars