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Review: 'Mission Park' a clunky tale of murder, friendship

Writer-director Bryan Anthony Ramirez keeps things moving, but his urban crime drama is long on cliches and short on nuance.

September 05, 2013|By Gary Goldstein
  • Jeremy Ray Valdez in a still from "Mission Park."
Jeremy Ray Valdez in a still from "Mission Park." (Prodigy Public Relations )

A talented quartet of young actors can't surmount the wall-to-wall clichés that comprise "Mission Park," an earnest, not terribly convincing action thriller as generic as its title. Though writer-director Bryan Anthony Ramirez keeps things moving apace, he trots out so many familiar tropes that it's often like watching a highlights reel from a lifetime's worth of urban crime dramas.

The movie, set in San Antonio, finds four childhood friends, who as kids were jointly involved in a botched restaurant robbery, reuniting as 20ish adults on opposite sides of the law: Brothers Bobby (a strong Jeremy Ray Valdez) and Julian (Will Rothhaar) are newbie FBI agents, while Jason (Walter Perez) and Derek (Joseph Julian Soria) have become, respectively, a major drug kingpin and his right-hand man.

But Jason and Derek don't initially know that Bobby and Julian are G-men, much less that they've been sent undercover by their FBI bosses (Sean Patrick Flanery and Douglas Spain, also the film's producer) to take down Jason's syndicate. Suffice to say, suspicions arise and violent reprisals ensue. A beautiful young woman (Fernanda Romero) with split allegiances will also factor in.

Ramirez over-relies on flashbacks and on-the-nose narration; a pivotal midpoint murder is also clunkily rendered. There is, however, a heartfelt thread here that keeps us invested in Bobby's fraught journey. If only the emotions had been applied with a lighter, more nuanced hand.


"Mission Park"

MPAA rating: R for violence and language throughout, sexual content/nudity and some drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Playing: At select AMC theaters.


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