Narcos meets Chappie: My Review of Cartel 2045 (Juarez 2045)

April 18, 2018


Directed by Chris Le

Release date: TBA 2018.

Originally released last year as Juarez 2045 , Cartel 2045 is the updated name for the movie.

In the 2040’s the United States uses an experimental new type of drone in a war with Iran. But when the military loses control of one of these new drones, the subsequent lose of civilian life leads to UN banning such drones. Looking to recoup their loses, Gear Side, the drone’s manufacturer, decides to secretly sell the weapons to a Juarez drug cartel.

But the cartel, led by character actor-legend  Danny Trejo decides to abduct the daughter of the engineer who created the drones in order to force him to create newer and better drones in order for his cartel to wipe out the competition and also to gain an advantage over their main enemies, the American military.

Enter Carson Wright, played by


. Wright is a former Marine and a scapegoat  who was forced to take the blame after the disaster in Iran. Chosen for his experience with the drones, Wright is pulled out of military prison and sent to Mexico to meet up with a special forces team to rescue the engineer and his daughter.

All and all, the movie is lacking in several places. Le tries so hard to create a movie that has the feel of early seventies grindhouse movies in the style of Toby Hooper, it goes a little too far and lacks the cleverness and innovations that many grindhouse movies had. The special effects are hookie knock-offs of old Xena and Hercules shows from the nineties. Le, who is a graphic designer probably could have done better effects, but seems to have chosen not to, all to create an artificial, low-budget seventies feel. 

Which is too bad, because the initial premises, drug lords getting high tech robot weapons, could have made this a much more engaging science fiction drama. But Le tries too hard to make this movie a tribute to grindhouse rather than making a serious movie.

Although the plot is an interesting one and even timely, it lacks the heart of movies and TV shows it seems to be imitating. Shows like Narcos and Breaking Bad , along with movies like Chappie , try to humanize the drug lords and robots that they depict. I wouldn’t say shows like Narcos justify the deeds of their characters, I would say that they are serious dramas that engage and respect their audiences.

There are also a number of technical that should have been addressed, like the lack of Spanish to English subtitles and scenes where the actors are speaking Spanish.  There is also the weird scene cuts, like when Carson is in prison getting a mission briefing before cutting away to some drug lords having a meeting back to Carson who is suddenly heading to Juarez before getting ambushed. 

Trejo, who is a terrific actor, tries his best to carry this film. But in the end it has too many flaws to make the movie interesting.

Overall grade: D

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