Movie Review #406: On The Job

The best film I’ve seen in 2013 so far

Bold, ruthless, brutal, whatever you call it, Erik Matti’s crime thriller On The Job is just so remarkably well done that it’s hard to believe it’s real. The film is a stark reminder of what Filipino filmmakers can conceive with a big budget and creative control. It’s a fantastic example of art not giving in to commercialism, and as a result moviegoers become treated by a rare Pinoy actioner that will surely be looked upon as an instant classic.

From the get go, you could already sense the movie’s not your usual mainstream offering. The starting sequence that was set in a certain street in Manila made sure of that, continued by the amazing opening credits that gave me goosebumps. From there, it was just consistently gripping. There were very intense moments divided by the occasional dialogue between the main characters. But even those were captivating as you discover their backstories and motivations. Tatang in particular, is one you’ll be rooting for and Joel Torre’s masterful portrayal of an aging inmate makes you love him even more. Even the young bloods, Gerald Anderson and Piolo Pascual deliver surprisingly good performances. And while Joey Marquez’s Sgt. Acosta doesn’t necessarily make you like him at the start, by the final minutes you’d want to give him a standing ovation for what he’s done overall.

The central theme of corruption is handled with such grittiness that it’s so effective in eking out an emotional reaction from you. It’s so relevant, so realistic, and so entertaining. And bolstered by fantastic cinematography, the story is told with a visual style which complements its noir elements. It’s the most engaging Filipino film I’ve seen in my life, and that’s enough to make it my #1 film of 2013 so far. Word of mouth has been excellent and fortunately people are visiting the multiplexes. I’m telling you right now, if you’re in the Philippines and this is showing: WATCH IT ASAP! You’ll regret it if you don’t.

GRADE: A-

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