The sex slave trade is real. It goes on today, not only south of the border in Mexico and Latin America, seen in films like Man on Fire as lawless hellholes, but in the area where I live, in the north New Jersey neighborhoods around Newark, where in 2002 police raided a Plainfield house and found four teenaged Mexicanas, prisoners of traffickers, forced into prostitution for their captors' profit.
This incident was highlighted in a 2004 article for New York Times Magazine, "The Girls Next Door" by Peter Landesman. Although the article has become a flashpoint for controversy and its credibility called into question, "The Girls Next Door" attracted the attention of Hollywood producer Rosilyn Heller. Publicity materials note that Heller met Landesman through feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Heller's "friend and producing partner." (True: According to IMDb.com, Steinem and Heller co-produced the 1993 TV movie Better Off Dead.)
Then Heller called another "producing partner": Roland Emmerich, schlockmeister producer of The Patriot, Godzilla and Independence Day. Emmerich bought film rights to "The Girls Next Door," and recruited Mexican screenwriter Jose Rivera (Che Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries) and young German director Marco Kreuzpaintner ("coming-out" comedy–drama Summer Storm).
The result is somewhat schizophrenic film: part hard-hitting, socially aware procedural about the abduction and trafficking of young women and girls through Mexico into the U.S.; part heart-pumping action/buddy/road–movie about a hooligan-turned-hero who tracks his abducted sister for thousands of miles from Mexico to New Jersey with the help of a lone cop with a personal stake in the trafficking racket.
The victims are a 12-year-old ...