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Set against the backdrop of Bush's War on Terror and Barack Obama's rise to presidency, the film follows the story of 14-year-old Angel, an undocumented Latino teen, who struggles to find his place in an increasingly violent world. With the promise of naturalization papers, the US Military presents Angel's family with the opportunity for a brighter future if they send his older brother into the US Army. With his eldest brother gone, Angel is left to the designs of a local street gang, and the family left to deal with the consequences of the choices they have made.Written by
The title of this movie is misleading, since it is not about the soldiers but about those they left behind. "Greencard Warriors" refers to soldiers trying to get their green cards and, in some cases, green cards for their families.
Jesus is an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. He is determined to achieve the American dream, but for now he seems to have several jobs that aren't very desirable but are all an illegal alien might be able to get. Though they don't listen, he wants his family to speak English because they're in America now. Jesus has a wife Rosa? and three children including a young girl. Angel is 14. Early in the movie, Benito ("Beto") joins a gang but says Angel can be a mascot but shouldn't join. The gang members care strongly about each other and it is understandable that a young person might want to join them, even if some of their activities are not quite legal. Jesus has a cousin who needs a place to stay.
At school, Beto watches a presentation by two soldiers who explain that illegal immigrants can get a green card and get their families legal status by joining the military. It is a risk because at the time, the U.S. was fighting in Iraq. President George W. Bush comes on TV later in the movie to praise the efforts of our men and women serving in Iraq. Beto wants no part of this, but the soldiers come to his house and inform the family that joining the military is a way to become legal, and if Beto doesn't, the family could be at risk.
Meanwhile, Angel goes to the local store where he meets Jasmine, who is black and really nice. They hit it off. Jazmine's father LB, a cop, doesn't want her hanging around with one of "them" (and the gang disapproves of her because "they" are the enemy) and he takes her home to her mom Gabrielle. Dre, Gabrielle's boyfriend Dre answers the door. Dad doesn't approve of Dre. Gabrielle has a successful business of some kind which apparently involves cooking. I say successful because she is later shown driving a Mercedes, even though she does live in the 'hood. She's not the type to deal drugs, though Dre might be.
Jesus finally persuades Beto to join the military.
The rest of the movie is not pleasant, but the writing and performances are worth seeing. Bad things happen, and not everyone gets a happy ending. In fact, few of the cast get anything close to a happy ending.
Manny Perez as Jesus delivers a passionate speech to the soldiers, complete with what appear to be all the major curse words, explaining his desire to be an American and why Beto shouldn't have been persuaded to serve.
This movie is respectful of Latino culture and portrays positive images when it can, but of course much of the movie is devoted to the negative. There are a lot of subtitles. Some words are blurred and the sound goes out a lot, whether the character is speaking Spanish or English. The F-word got missed by the censors once. No, this is not for kids. There is some violence but it's not really too bad. Much of it is, in fact, the initiation into the gang.
I wish the music had been better. Most of it is rap, and not Spanish rap either. Some music is Spanish language, and the music with the closing credits is quite good. Background music is often pleasant and Latin-flavored.
It's worth seeing. Just don't expect to be happy a lot of the time.
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