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Originally published Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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Movie review

'Murder Capital of the World': Sobering take on Mexico's drug war

A review of "Murder Capital of the World," a low-budget documentary that provides a sobering account of drug-cartel violence in Juárez, Mexico, including the sobering statistic that more than 50,000 murders have occurred in Mexico since 2006.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'Murder Capital of the World,' a documentary directed by Charlie Minn. 83 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains graphic images of crime-scene violence). In English and Spanish, with English subtitles. Meridian.

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We've all seen the news reports: Across the border of El Paso, Texas, the city of Juárez, Mexico, has become a war zone where bloodbaths are a daily routine. As Mexican drug cartels continue their deadly campaigns of narco-terrorism, it quickly becomes clear why Charlie Minn's film is titled "Murder Capital of the World."

The film is rife with news clips and staggering statistics, like more than 50,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since 2006. Many of the victims were innocent civilians, including journalists and law-abiding officials who've been rendered helpless against rampant corruption at every level of police, military and political power.

Minn is hampered by a minuscule budget, but he compensates with wide-ranging coverage of the facts, issues and history related to Juárez's skyrocketing murder rate. He supports his independent reporting by interviewing many top authorities.

Among these well-informed interviewees, Charles Bowden (author of several books about Juárez and the drug trade) stands out as the kind of grizzled, cynical writer that Nick Nolte played in the superb 1983 thriller "Under Fire."

The final section of the film addresses the future of Juárez now that civilians have begun to organize protests against the cartels and corrupt officials. It's suggested that things will improve if a new Mexican president is elected July 1, but under present circumstances, any kind of optimism is highly unconvincing.

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