Written and directed by Issa López, Tigers Are Not Afraid follows several Mexican adolescents as they’re pursued by dangerous cartel members after stealing a member’s cellphone – with the narrative also weaving in mystical elements stemming from one of the adolescent’s imaginative visions. Filmmaker López admittedly does an effective job of establishing the movie’s various characters and the seedy landscape in which they reside, and it’s clear, too, that Tigers Are Not Afraid benefits substantially from the naturalistic performances by the various young actors. It’s fairly distressing to note, then, that the picture grows less and less interesting as it progresses, as López delivers an excessively deliberate narrative that’s rife with precisely the sort of attributes and twists one has come to expect from stories of this ilk (ie the dynamic between the scrappy street kids is often egregiously familiar). The aforementioned mystical elements don’t fare much better, ultimately, as the continuing inclusion of such does nothing to alleviate the otherwise entirely tiresome atmosphere (and there’s little doubt, as well, that the absurd, Radio Flyer-like ending is about as anticlimactic as one could possibly envision). Tigers Are Not Afraid is, in the final analysis, a well-intentioned yet wholly uninvolving misfire that might’ve worked in the context of a short, but simply doesn’t have enough content to comfortably fill a feature-length running time.
** out of ****