Here’s another spectacular film from the Philippines directed by Erik Matti that continues to give me hope that one day, the talent of my fellow men will truly be recognized. The themes that struck me the most are the realities of politics, crime and morality in this day and age. These themes are depicted by four men in different dispositions as they all struggle to survive. It’s sad that these things did not surprise me at all about humanity. I wish that more films would bring awareness to my fellow Filipinos so that together, we can made a difference, however idealistic that may sound.
Tatang/Mario, portrayed magnificently by Joel Torre, is an inmate in Manila jail who sidelines in assassinations for corrupt government officials. This is a convenient method for people in power to bring down people holding them back as the criminals who perform the assassinations are nowhere to be found after the crime because people like Tatang return immediately to prison. As benefits, Tatang is able to visit his family every so often he gets a job, privileges in prison and a lot of money.
Daniel, starring Gerald Andersen, is the apprentice of Tatang who slowly took the lead position when Tatang received notice that he was going to be released soon. Apparently, inmates who do this job when released from prison are made to retire from assassinating, or even get killed upon getting released. This prevents any threats that the corrupt government officials may receive.
Sgt. Acosta, starring Joey Marquez, is the local police tasked to investigate the consecutive controversial crimes that he has linked to certain government officials. With no power in his position, he is only left with theories, no connections and power to pursue his advocacy.
Francis Coronel, portrayed by Piolo Pascual, is a hot shot NBI agent officer who was tasked to take over the investigations of Sgt. Acosta, with hopes from the corrupt government officials that he will also fold to evil. He portrays the character with morality issues as he is faced with the option of doing what is right even if it would mean danger and doing what is wrong which could bring him to the so-called greatness, glory or power in the future.
I admire how this movie was made and written because it raised many issues that are applicable today. For instance, people are constantly faced with the dilemma of doing what is right and wrong. Are we ready to face the consequences of any of these actions? Will you be able to sleep peacefully at night if you have the power but you did it through evil means? On the other hand, will you be able to sleep at night with the constant threat of danger not only to yourself but also to your loved ones as collateral to the challenge you just brought about?
I was not surprised when Francis Coronel got killed because he did what was right. I was more surprised when Tatang killed his apprentice Daniel. It was a state that I did not foresee at all. It made me wonder what went through his mind as he made his decisions. At that point in time, he was already about to get released from prison with no more “jobs” to fulfill as it would cause complications. He was also faced with a wife at home who was constantly cheating. Who would think that he’d rather stay in prison, be the lead assassin and kill the man his wife was cheating on? His life has become so twisted that making those decisions didn’t seem to scare him at all. It just proves the length of evil humanity can do when faced with difficult circumstances in life.
The success of the movie brought about many raving reviews as well as many speculations on the real personalities behind the characters. These things may never be proven but I hope that it brings about action and not indifference in the country. Sometimes, I myself am guilty of this indifference and ignorance so I am grateful for these films that spark passion.
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Photo Credit: 2.bp.blogspot.com, philstar.com