No Turning Back

"Weak"

No Turning Back Review


Films that stridently attempt to convey a political message aren't automatically bad, but they do come out of the starting gate carrying a lot of baggage. No Turning Back, a low-budget thriller, admirably attempts to be as much a commentary on race relations and class differences as much as it tries to be a story about a struggle for dignity embedded in a chase film. But eventually it has too many preposterous plot turns and weak performances to match its ambition. It bolts out of the blocks tugging a crate full of bricks, two wrecking balls, and a cruise-ship anchor.

The story centers on Pablo (Jesus Nebot), a Honduran refugee attempting to care for his six-year-old daughter Cristina (Chelsea Rendon) in Southern California by himself (mom was killed in the turmoil of Hurricane Mitch). After accidentally hitting and killing a young girl with his truck (pointedly, the girl comes from a white bread suburb with well-manicured lawn), both find themselves on the run. Respecting Pablo's character is immediately difficult, which gets more problematic as more characters enter the mix. Soid (Lindsay Price), a precocious young documentary filmmaker, spies the accident with her video camera and promises Pablo and Cristina safe harbor if he'll allow her to record their experience. Soid is the smuggest interviewer ever, judgmental and ignorant in her questioning, which is a mainly a script device: It allows Pablo to offer hey-wait-a-minute platitudes about prejudice and class struggle.

Meanwhile, two police detectives, Bryan (Vernee Watson-Johnson) and Steven Lightning (Robert Vestal), are on the chase. Both are cop stereotypes - Bryan's the tough-as-nails grumpus from the 'hood, and Lightning is, God help us, possessed of Indian blood that allows him to "sense" criminal activity. He also has the assistance of an owl that speaks to him in his sleep. The cruel irony is that the script gives them lines about the problems with stereotyping. (Disclosure: I know Vestal, a college acquaintance, a fact that gave me no more patience for the threadbare lines he's coughing up here.) The conclusion is inevitable. And once the family of the killed child is integrated, the story becomes impossibly forced.

As an actor, Nebot has real strength at conveying fear, and when he lectures Soid about being Honduran, not Mexican, it feels more natural than groan-inducing. And his interactions with the young Cristina has some sweet intimacy to it; Rendon, in fact, does some of the best acting here. There's some real potential in Nebot's performance, certainly more than his previous resume suggests (two Emmanuelle flicks is about two too many). There's the possibility that he can pull together a script that balances his politics and his workmanlike directing skills. But it's not here.



No Turning Back

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st June 2002

Distributed by: Innovation Film Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Julia Montejo

Producer:

Contactmusic


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