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Review: Low-budget ‘My Stretch of Texas Ground’ takes the high road on terror at the border

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Jeff Weber in the movie “My Stretch of Texas.”
(Double Exposure Distribution)

Given that some outrage-stirring politicians have begun recounting details from action movies like “Sicario” as though they were hard facts, certain viewers may bristle at the very idea of the low-budget thriller “My Stretch of Texas Ground,” which imagines a scenario where a terrorist cell sneaks an assassin across the Mexican border to take out a U.S. senator.

But director Erich Kemp and screenwriter Ralph Cinque are surprisingly even-handed in their depiction of international crime and its consequences. By opening with multiple discussions of drone attacks and “enhanced interrogation,” “My Stretch of Texas Ground” creates a context for its central stand-off, between a shrewd killer, Abdul (Junes Zahdi), and a wise small-town sheriff, Joe Haladin (Jeff Weber).

If anything, the film’s main problem is that it feels more like a debate than a cop picture, with too much of its leisurely running time set aside for airing different points of view, and too little for shootouts and chases. The other big stumbling block is that the production often borders on the amateurish, with weak acting, flat lighting and poor sound.

Still, given that “My Stretch of Texas Ground” could have been both shoddy and xenophobic, it’s refreshing that Kemp and Cinque try to engage honestly and provocatively with the real world, rooting their story in the underlying issues related to terrorism and border security, rather than just the political talking points. This is a well-intentioned movie; it’s just not a well-made one.

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‘My Stretch of Texas Ground’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Playing: Starts Feb. 22, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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