Cartel Land

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Matthew Heineman's strikingly shot documentary hops back and forth over the border: In Mexico, we spend time with the Autodefensas, a group of gun-toting vigilantes intent on protecting Mexican towns from powerful drug cartels. And in Arizona, we spend time with the Arizona Border Recon, a group of gun-toting vigilantes intent on... well, they're definitely intent on keeping Mexicans out of Arizona. Also maybe they want to fight cartels, somehow? Also sometimes they mumble racist stuff. Needless to say, the Arizona Border Recon—dressed up in military surplus, play-acting at being soldiers—are moderately terrifying. But so, it turns out, are the t-shirt-clad Autodefensas, who might not be as free of corruption as they claim. Cartel Land lingers on the parallels between these groups, and though the film can be uneven, it's anchored by two magnetic personalities: In Arizona, there's the steely-eyed, leather-skinned, former meth-head Tim "Nailer" Foley; in Mexico, there's the charismatic, magnificently mustached Dr. Jose Mireles, vigilante by night and doctor by day. by Erik Henriksen
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Matthew Heineman
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