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Torn apart over time, the ambitions of four childhood friends place them on both sides of the law. Young FBI Agents Bobby (Jeremy Ray Valdez) and Julian (Will Rothhaar) are forced to infiltrate and take down a drug organization run by the untouchable kingpin Jason (Walter Perez) and his right-hand man Derek (Joseph Julian Soria).
Mission Park doesn’t feel like your typical indie in content and style, but it is not an over-ambitious attempt in the slightest to be something that it is not. It feels more like a mainstream film, but in a completely natural and unassuming way. It is a confident storytelling approach about friendship, morality, and loyalty, with a predominantly Latino cast – one of the aspects that makes the film unique. Although the main characters are Latino the storyline is in no way exclusive, and it doesn’t focus on any specific culture, more just a specific story. It is about the people, and the relationships between them.
We are introduced to a group of chalk and cheese characters who, although are notably different in personalities, share that bond formed only with people you grew up with from a young age. We first see the four pre-adolescent boys – Julian, Derek, Jason, and Bobby sitting casually in a taqueria kicking about together. It turns sour. Off lime sour. An incident occurs that shapes the outlook and lives of these boys forever. From this moment on, the divide between the four friends becomes very apparent as they pair off, the good versus the bad, the moral versus the immoral, as they become police versus gangsters. However, they still remain brothers, or so it seems.
Bobby (Jeremy Ray Valdez), Jason (Walter Perez), Derek (Joseph Julian Soria) and Julian (Will Rothhaar), in addition to their impressive and heartfelt acting, provide some serious eye candy as the cute, the suave, the sexy, and the handsome, respectively. I definitely enjoyed watching this fantastic four, mmmhmm. (see above). The acting in general was strong, with particular credit to Walter Perez who seemed so incredibly natural and slotted into his character perfectly. Jeremy Ray Valdez was also predominantly memorable who we see act a broad variety of feelings and emotions such as fear, loss, pain, and love. The relationship between Bobby and his adopted brother Julian is deep and inspiring that two boys can stick together focused on the same positive path, repelled by the temptation of the fast paced illegitimate high life. Valdez and Rothhaar portray a genuine loving brotherly bond.
One of the great things about Mission Park is its capacity to appeal to all audiences – just because the vast majority of the cast is Latino doesn’t make this a restricted or specialized film at all. It is in no way a focus point, just a bunch of great up and coming actors portraying a believable story. It carries a positive message throughout about the way kids are brought up – how good morals can be ingrained from a young age. Although this is easier said than done and each personal situation differs, generally speaking it teaches that with the right support and backing you can do the right thing, be a model citizen, despite where you came from and where you grew up.
The flow and pace of the film is pretty consistent and easy to follow, it started off a little slow and tame, but this allowed a humble introduction into the lives of the four individuals, and worked as a good contrast for the second part of the film which picked up pace and excitement. At intervals, we are flashbacked into the childhoods of the four main protagonists, who each came from broken homes of a variety, be it drugs, abuse, alcohol or death. This was a nice touch as it enables the audience to empathize with the characters and the reasons for their actions. I have little to fault about Mission Park, as when you consider it as an independent film rather than a commercial film like it appears to be, it becomes an even more impressive achievement. I would have liked to have seen a bit more suspense in the film, and I feel that the ending was slightly far fetched for such a great movie throughout. Despite this Mission Park beams confidence, is well written, directed, and produced. It is not complex or pretentious, which makes it even more endearing.
Mission Park tests relationships, explores emotions, and confronts morals. All very relatable things to the average person, which is why I strongly believe this film would appeal to most people who watch it, whatever your background. For anyone that can get to one of the AMC theatres below, I suggest making the time to see this film, you wont be disappointed!
I give Mission Park 7.5/10
Mission Park hits selected AMC Theatres from 6 September 2013:
Burbank 8, Burbank, CA
Universal City Walk 19, Los Angeles, CA
Norwalk 20, Norwalk, CA
Ontario 30, Ontario, CA
Orange 30, Orange, CA
South Bay Galleria 16, Redondo Beach, CA
Tyler Galleria 16, Riverside, CA
Galewood 14, Chigaco, IL
Cicero 14, Cicero, IL
Empire 25, New York, NYC