Movie review: ‘8 Murders a Day’

Although “8 Murders a Day,” Charlie Minn’s disturbing documentary about the ultra-violent drug war in Juarez, Mexico, is somewhat repetitive and not terribly well-organized, it shines an important light on what the filmmaker deems “the greatest human rights disaster in the world today.”

Aided by vivid archival news clips, you-are-there footage from the so-called “murder capital of the world” (Juarez saw more than 3,000 homicides in 2010 alone, hence the movie’s title) and frank interviews with academics, reporters and first-hand observers, Minn lays blame for the border city’s anguish largely on Felipe Calderon who, after being elected Mexico’s president in 2006, waged what became a failed — and, some say, disingenuous — fight against Juarez’s competing drug cartels.

As the filmmaker and his spokespeople contend, Mexico’s politicians, police, military and survival-driven citizens have all been corrupted by an illicit drug industry that reportedly earns the country $30 billion to $50 billion a year. Add the contention of indifference to the victimized poor and the result, as sound bite-heavy author Charles Bowden puts it, is a “free-for-all” of ruinous proportion.

Unfortunately, direct input from any officials from Mexico or the U.S. (which also takes its lumps here) is nil, lending the film less journalistic heft than Minn’s previous documentary, 2010’s superior “A Nightmare in Las Cruces.”


“8 Murders a Day.” No MPAA rating. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes. At Regal Edwards Southgate Stadium 20, South Gate.