Film Review: Borrego

STUDIO: Saban/Paramount | DIRECTOR: Jesse Harris | CAST: Lucy Hale, Leynar Gomez, Olivia Trujillo, Jorge A. Jimenez, Nicholas Gonzalez
SPECS: R | 102 min. | Action thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie

A rugged thriller that’s lean and sometimes mean, Borrego stars Lucy Hale (Fantasy Island) as Elly, a botanist working on her own in the middle of the titular Southern California desert. After being joined by a teenager named Alex (Olivia Trujillo, For All Mankind), Elly observes a small plane crashing and attempts to help the survivor. She encounters the plane’s only passenger and pilot (Leynar Gomez, TV’s Narcos) and also notices boxes of opioids in the plane. After being threatened by the man, who is serving as a drug mule, Elly is forced to become his guide to find the Salton Sea, where he was to meet his drug connection.

The stakes are heightened when Borrego’s subplots and characters enter the arena, which include the survivor’s brooding drug connection and a local sheriff, who happens to be teenager Alex’s father.

At times, Borrego plays as a modern take on the muscular and, frankly, manly works of Walter Hill (Southern Comfort, Extreme Prejudice). Of course, the drama here is played with a female protagonist, which makes this effort unique on its own terms.  Unfortunately, writer-director Jesse Harris (who directed his first feature, 2004’s Living Life, when 17 years old) does not turn up the intensity level as high as it should be, and there are dry patches on the screen that mirror the film’s arid desert backdrop. Added points are given for touching on topics of three much-discussed issues in a genre film: the border, opioids and policing crises.

Watch Borrego

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.