I can accept and appreciate a person’s talent. Whether it was something they were born with or they trained for years, it does not matter to me. But I have to tell you it takes something more for that talented person to earn my respect. I know some of you are saying who am I to withhold respect for the talented individual and you would be correct. That person does not know me nor will probably ever meet me, but this is how I am wired. Let me use the swimmer from the recent Olympics who filed a false police report. Being a world champion swimmer with multiple endorsements, at one point had a television show, traveling the world, I assume making a pretty penny and that is not enough for them that they needed to attract more attention to themselves by creating a false crime; I find it sad and disrespectful on many levels. As far as I am concerned I would not devote a second of interest towards anything this person does or says. On top of it I would certainly never buy or even try any product associated with them. Now I do want to make the distinction that there may be a talented person who does not have the same beliefs I do and that is okay. Fortunately I live in a place where freedom of speech is protected, so I do not have any issue with someone who may act in a way that is not compatible to my way of thinking; I still respect and accept them even if at times I feel conflicted with their actions compared to their achievements. The main character in this biographical drama would be a perfect example of what I mean. SOMETHING special took place when Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, played by Edgar Ramirez (Point Break, Joy), met an American trainer named Ray Arcel, played by Robert De Niro (The Intern, Grudge Match). Though I knew some of the names in this action movie I really did not know anything about their history. With musician Usher Raymond (Muppets Most Wanted, Scary Movie 5) as Sugar Ray Leonard, Ruben Blades (Safe House, The Devil’s Own) as Carlos Eleta and Ana de Armas (War Dogs, Anabel) as Felicidad Iglesias; I thought the best acting came out of Edgar and Robert. Usher did not look or act the character though he had his dance moves for the footwork needed in the boxing ring. One of the reasons I thought Edgar’s acting was exceptional was the way I was reacting to his character. On one side you had this incredibly talented boxer who to me was arrogant and rude; but on the other hand, he could be generous and loving. It was a conflict for me which meant Edgar was doing a good portrayal. I just wished the script was better because there was too much going on with various story lines, besides the predictability of it. Most events except for the well choreographed boxing scenes felt like they were only scratching the surface. Just as I felt conflicted about the boxer as a person, I felt the same way about this movie. There were scenes that showed blood.
Looking back in history, it seems as if religion usually played a role in war. At least that has been my belief. Without any prior knowledge I was shocked I had never heard of the Cristeros War (1926-1929), that took place in Mexico. Simply put, this was a war against the Catholic Church. Mexico’s secular government was led by President Plutarco Elias Calles, played by Ruben Blades (Safe House, The Devil’s Own), who essentially declared war on the Catholic Church with the help of the government he set up. For example, church property could now be seized whenever the administration saw fit. There was a ban on all religious orders besides the elimination of any foreign born priests–even if it meant killing them. Civil war broke out led by Catholic rebels called Cristeros, Christ fighters. To solidify their ranks and become more like a disciplined army, the Cristeros enlisted the help of war hero Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, played by Andy Garcia (City Island, Smokin’ Aces). I felt the writers did a disservice to this historical based film. With this chapter already played out in Mexico’s past, the writing should have only elevated the dramatic moments or bridge the gap between story lines. Clocking in at 2 hours and 25 minutes, the movie was way too long, much in need of some serious editing. It would have given several parts more impact. A surprise to me was Andy Garcia’s poor acting; I expected better from him. What a shame to take a David and Goliath type of story and turn it into a mediocre soap opera. This movie had several graphic scenes.
1 3/4 stars