Talented Mexican Writer and Director Jonás Cuarón (Year of the Nail 2007, Gravity 2013) has done it again, this time with the new Thriller co-written by Mateo Garcia entitled Desierto. Complementing the film, Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien 2001, The Motorcycle Diaries 2004) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen 2009, The Walking Dead series) team up to play cat and mouse in one of the hottest deserts and current topics tackling the United States. Co-produced by yet another famous Mexican filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004, Children of Men 2006), Jonas’ father, together with his uncle, Carlos Cuarón, Desierto has already attained several accolades including the FIPRESCI Special Presentations award at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Since acquired by STX Entertainment, Desierto was released in theaters on October 14th, 2016.
Moises (Bernal) and a group of Mexican citizens are traveling through the desert in hopes to reach the United States and start a new life. Trouble begins when the truck that was carrying them breaks down and they are all forced to walk through the desert instead. Sam (Morgan), a renegade man with the sole intention to rid the desert off illegal immigrants, sends off his dog on a smelling hunt to track down the immigrants. Tensions rise when Moises and four other people separate from the group, who is running a lot faster than them and are now the first ones on Sam’s target. One by one, Sam shoots the first group of immigrants and Moises and the others are looking from afar.
Sam thinks he is done for the day until his dog sniffs out Moises and the others, making Sam go after them one by one. The desert offers little to no hiding spots and a killer dog and his master with a sniper are more than enough match for Moises and the others who have no way of defending themselves besides their intelligence. There is only one thing worse to be killed with than a sniper, and that is the scorching hot desert itself. Moises and Sam come face to face in the ultimate survival fight, and without a sniper and his loyal dog, Sam quickly learns that Moises is not as forgiving as he thought.
Crossing the desert in hopes for a better life has been going on forever. People come from all over the world into what has become The Melting Pot, aka The United States. The USA is the land of freedom and fairness, and the character of Moises is just one of millions who has attempted to cross the country through the desert. Cuarón’s Desierto tackles this topic head on, and besides making an entertaining film, he makes sure that people understand that it is not always easy to live in the USA, let alone attempting to cross into it.
It should be duly noted Desierto is not a movie based on real events, but it very well could be, seeing how many people try to cross the desert in an effort to find a better future each day. In Desierto, Moises’ intentions are to cross the USA to see his sons who he promised to take care off before he was deported. While fictional, this is only one of the reasons why many people try to cross into the USA. Featuring wonderful cinematography by Damian Garcia (El Narco 2010, Güeros 2014), his work is just another reason why Desierto shines so wonderfully on the screen. All in all, the storyline of survival is compelling and it may make people think twice before judging someone else trying to migrate to America. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Desierto 5 out of 5 stars.