The Gatekeeper (2002)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Social Problem Film  |   Release Date - Apr 2, 2004 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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John Carlos Frey demonstrates a good deal of talent as the director, writer, and star of The Gatekeeper. His film is earnestly well meaning, but it's somewhat lacking in depth. The problems begin with the unlikely premise of the film. While the plight of illegal immigrants is well documented, and while many of the events that take place in the film mirror actual events, the conceit that sets the story of The Gatekeeper in motion -- a border patrol agent who is secretly half-Mexican and secretly part of a right wing anti-immigration group goes undercover as an illegal immigrant to embarrass his bosses -- is underdeveloped and fairly ludicrous. The vagueness of the National Patrol's plan is a major sticking point of the plot. In addition, the villains of the piece, from Adam's (Frey) cohorts at the National Patrol to the sinister crystal meth producers who enslave the immigrants, are played too broadly, and the illegals with whom Adam finds himself trapped are a bit too angelic. Adam himself is a fairly interesting character, but Frey hasn't filled out the supporting parts as well. Eva (Michelle Agnew), the desperate single mother who forms an understandably antagonistic relationship with Adam at first, is the closest the film comes to a three-dimensional supporting character. Frey has also been criticized for making his film in English in an apparent effort to broaden its appeal. The Gatekeeper is still a worthy drama about a compelling subject. The setup may be contrived, but it does allow Frey to explore an important subject from a unique point-of-view.