More smoldering glances than bullets are exchanged in the sweaty, Mexican siege movie “In the Middle of Nowhere.” First-time helmer Hugo Rodriguez keeps the tension humming and cleverly sustains a taut if familiar atmosphere thick with possibilities. He leaves too many of them underexplored for the result to make much of a mark commercially. But the slick pic’s watchable, sharply directed cast could help open inroads into vid markets.
A desert rose (Blanca Guerra) and her husband (Manuel Ojeda), an ex-trade unionist with a spotty past, run a truck stop miles from nowhere. Dust-bowl ennui and minor marital friction are interrupted when a fugitive trio turns up — a gravely wounded criminal (Guillermo Garcia Cantu), his dangerously sexy wife (Gabriela Roel) and his trigger-happy, none-too-smart brother (Emilio Cortes). With no getaway car handy, banditos and hostages settle in for the day.
While the claustrophobic situation slow-burns to an inevitable (but surprisingly low-voltage) gun-slinging conclusion, the superior thesps continually seem poised to break out of their relatively stock characterizations.
But despite some promisingly edgy confrontations — such as one between the stoical Guerra and tough enchilada Roel — Rodriguez and co-scripter Marina Stavenhagen never veer off at the psychological turning points on offer.