Mission Park: Film Review
Former friends find themselves on opposite sides of the law in this San Antonio-set crime thriller.
Former friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the law are the heart of the familiar premise of Mission Park, Bryan Anthony Ramirez’s hackneyed crime thriller whose sole novelty is its San Antonio, Texas, location.
We first encounter childhood friends Bobby (Jeremy Ray Valdez), his adopted brother Julian (Will Rothhaar), Jason (Walter Perez) and Derek (Joseph Julian Soria) when they jointly take part in a robbery that results in tragedy. Cut to years later, when Bobby and his brother, unbeknownst to everyone but their father, have just graduated from the FBI Academy. In the meantime, their former buddies have traveled a criminal path, with Jason having become a major drug kingpin and Derek his right-hand man.
In the sort of plot twist that has fueled countless television shows and movies, Bobby and Julian are chosen to head a major sting operation against their former friends despite their utter lack of experience.
“This is the shit you came to the academy for,” spits out a tough-as-nails FBI supervisor played by Vivica A. Fox in a cameo appearance.
So, under the supervision of a San Antonio police captain (Sean Patrick Flanery), the intrepid young agents pretend to rejoin their former comrades in a life of crime, leading to the inevitable complications, including a love triangle involving Bobby’s former squeeze (Fernanda Romero), who’s now involved with Jason.
Featuring the extensive flashbacks and voiceover narration that are de rigueur for crime dramas, Mission Park lurches from one cliche-ridden scene to another, with such quirky details as one of the bad guy’s penchant for manicures—he equates clean nails with a clean conscience, he explains—failing to provide much compensation.
It all culminates in an ultra-violent confrontation in an abandoned warehouse in which the film’s already high body count is increased exponentially.
Despite reasonably effective performances by the young leads, the film is unconvincing from start to finish, with the director relying on so many helicopter shots of the San Antonio skyline that it begins to resemble something that might have been produced by the city’s tourist bureau. In an example of optimistic thinking, a post-credits sequence sets up the possibility of a sequel.
Opens Sept. 6 (Mission Park Productions)
Production: Armando Montelongo Productions
Cast: Jeremy Ray Valdez, Walter Perez, Fernanda Romero, Will Rothhaar, Joseph Julian Soria, Will Estes, Jesse Borrego, Vivica A. Fox, Sean Patrick Flanery
Director/screenwriter: Bryan Anthony Ramirez
Producer: Douglas Spain
Executive producer: Armando Montelongo
Director of photography: L. Thomas Nador
Editor: Yusef Svacina
Production designer: Cary White
Costume designer: Stephen M. Chudej
Composer: Stephen Barton
Rated R, 100 min.