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Sin Nombre Review

Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre is quite an amazing movie. Although it is not based on any real events, the story is grounded in reality, depicting real scenarios of immigration and gang activities. It also features flawless performances and stunning cinematography.

My rating 5.0 Stars

Every year, there are millions of people who risk their lives crossing the border to reach the States. They do this in search of a better life and for other personal reasons. Many of them do not make the journey. Some get caught and some die. Those who do make it leave behind everything for a chance to start over. They leave their families, their friends, and their whole lives behind for the small chance of reaching the land of opportunity, for a chance to make a better life for themselves. In the film Sin Nombre we get to see firsthand one of the creative ways that illegal immigrants make that journey from as far away as Latin America.

However, Sin Nombre isn’t about those immigrants. I should probably also mention the MS-13 or Mala Salvatrucha. They are one of America’s biggest, most organized, and most dangerous gangs.  It has been around for decades. It was first started by refugees of the San Salvadorian Civil War that took shelter in Los Angeles, California. The gang was formed to protect each other from other gangs in LA, however over time members were caught by immigration and deported back to their countries. It is because of these deportations that the gang has spread so fast throughout North and South America and has become one of the largest in the world.

MS-13 is a real-life gang, much too real, and they are a ruthless band of real-life monsters. Most of them have actual military training, one of the reasons they are so deadly. The original members—some of which are probably still around—were soldiers in the Salvadorian Army. They know military tactics, they know small arms and they are not afraid to use them.

Another reason they are such danger to society, is their numbers. There have a lot of members. They are not afraid to recruit young and recruit many. Such numbers means that their influence has spread all over the Americas reaching as far east as Langley, VA and as far north as Canada. In fact, the FBI considers them to be one of the biggest threats to America, more so than the mob and even more so than terrorists.

However, the film isn’t really about the Mara either, however, it does show you life in the gang, but it doesn’t focus on that entirely. Instead it follows two individuals and how their lives are affected by each other.

Sayra is a normal young teen girl whose family is waiting to climb up on top a train that will take them from south Mexico to north Mexico. It is part of a journey that many illegal immigrants from Latin America make, one that is extremely dangerous and has less than a 50% chance of succeeding. Sayra is traveling with her father and uncle; they are ultimately on their way to New Jersey where their family awaits them.

Casper is a young gang member in love with another young girl. He was a loyal Salvatrucha so there is no doubt that he has killed and robed people in the past. However, after being betrayed by his own leader, Lil’ Mago, Casper was powerless against him in the presence of the entire gang (Mago, tried to rape and accidently killed Casper’s girlfriend). However, later that day, Mago proposes they go on a “mission”. The mission was to go to the train tracks where the immigrants were waiting for the train and rob the people there at the moment. During the robbery, Mago is stunned by Sayra’s beauty and tries to rape her too. Casper, without thinking, violently hacked Mago’s neck with a machete before he can really hurt Sayra. Perhaps it was the thought of Mago raping his own girlfriend, or maybe he had had enough. What we do know is that by doing so the Mara put a price on his head, hence the name Sin Nombre.

“Sin nombre” in Spanish literarily means nameless, however in this case it means without a home or purpose. After Casper kills Mago, he was an outcast. He was no longer a member of society, he was no longer a member of the gang, and therefore he was nobody. His life was over as he knew it.

Something else happened when he killed Mago, I think he gained his humanity back that he must’ve lost a long time ago. At the same time he earned respect from Sayra and her family for saving her dignity and possibly her life. Although at first her family didn’t want to trust him, in fact at one point they thought about tossing him off the train, they later came around when they saw that he wasn’t the monster they thought he was.

Sayra sees something special in Casper and she is quite taken by him. However, the movie did not turn this into a cheesy romantic movie, that would have made this story incredibly cliché. Instead, Casper becomes a sort of guardian angel for the family, guiding them through the tracks so that they can get safely to the states. As a gang member, he had been on the tracks before, so he knew where all the check points where and how to get around them. He used that knowledge to help Sayra’s family.

This is a wonderful story about resolving inner demons. It’s the story of a man who suddenly realizes that he’s been a monster all of his life and is desperately trying to make things right before the inevitable happens. He was going to see to it that Sayra got home.

This is an amazing movie. I have never seen anything like it. It is so out of the ordinary that it’s difficult to classify. Perhaps that is a good thing; I know it was for me. I enjoyed this movie from start to finish. Everyone’s performances were just unbelievable, the cinematography was beautiful and the story was so moving and unique. It is very difficult to turn a devil into an angel and this movie did just that.

Categories: 2009 Movie Reviews
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