Films that stridently attempt to convey a political message aren't automatically bad, but they do come out of the starting gate carrying a lot of baggage. No Turning Back, a low-budget thriller, admirably attempts to be as much a commentary on race relations and class differences as much as it tries to be a story about a struggle for dignity embedded in a chase film. But eventually it has too many preposterous plot turns and weak performances to match its ambition. It bolts out of the blocks tugging a crate full of bricks, two wrecking balls, and a cruise-ship anchor.

The story centers on Pablo (Jesus Nebot), a Honduran refugee attempting to care for his six-year-old daughter Cristina (Chelsea Rendon) in Southern California by himself (mom was killed in the turmoil of Hurricane Mitch). After accidentally hitting and killing a young girl with his truck (pointedly, the girl comes from a white bread suburb with well-manicured lawn), both find themselves on the run. Respecting Pablo's character is immediately difficult, which gets more problematic as more characters enter the mix. Soid (Lindsay Price), a precocious young documentary filmmaker, spies the accident with her video camera and promises Pablo and Cristina safe harbor if he'll allow her to record their experience. Soid is the smuggest interviewer ever, judgmental and ignorant in her questioning, which is a mainly a script device: It allows Pablo to offer hey-wait-a-minute platitudes about prejudice and class struggle.

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