I thought I was done with reviewing movies but once in a while, there’s a movie that comes along that I just don’t think I can shut up about.
I saw the trailer for On the Job when I watched The Wolverine and I thought it seemed like a good movie, but knowing Star Cinema and Philippine cinema in general, I wasn’t that motivated to see it. I’d actually forgotten all about it until yesterday when my brother said that he wanted to see it because it got a good review on ClickTheCity.com. The critic who writes for that website, at least to me, is notoriously difficult to please and often gives 2 out of 5 stars to movies that I think are worth at least 3. So when you see a rating of 4 or higher from him, it’s very likely that that movie is worth your time. And On the Job got 4.5 stars.
So, the poster could be a lot better. But other than that, I can’t think of anything else to complain about. Or, OK. I will complain about Shaina Magdayao, easily the weakest link of the lot and it’s too bad that her role was actually essential. Lucky it’s a small one. But let’s do away with those rants and get to the story.
This movie is about Tatang (Joel Torre), who is basically an assassin. He doesn’t get caught because he’s actually already in prison. The cops who run the prison are bribed to let him out so he can kill someone, then they put him back in again, giving him the perfect alibi–how could he have done those murders (if anyone even comes close to accusing him) when he’s been in prison the whole time?
It seems like a perfect arrangement, for him, at least. He’s got nothing to lose, already being an inmate, but he gets a lot of money, which he can give to his family. The only problem is, he’s getting old. On the other side are SPO1 Acosta (Joey Marquez) and Francis (Piolo Pascual), cops who are out to prove that they can’t be corrupted. They do everything they can to catch the bad guys, and it makes for a cat-and-mouse game, in which you don’t know who to root for.
I don’t know how the movie did it. Clearly, you’re not supposed to be on Tatang’s side because he’s an assassin and he kills people. But you can see that he cares for his family and aside from the killing, he’s actually a pretty okay guy. Then there are the cops who are after him, and they aren’t dirty cops, so you want them to win as well. Of course, only one side wins, but both sides are gray and in that way it’s actually kind of like Game of Thrones.
Well, the story was inspired by true events and I have no doubt that actual true events are even stranger. I was reminded of The Departed while I was watching this, especially during the chase sequence. I loved The Departed and liked the HK movie it was based on, Infernal Affairs. I would say that this is the Philippine version of that, except the stories are really different. So I guess I’ll just say that the stories are different, but the level of suspense and feeling of excitement are the same.
Dare I say that this is now my favorite Filipino movie? Under the action genre, definitely. I mean, the fact that there isn’t any scene here that’s in an abandoned warehouse and there are no old cars exploding on a provincial road, already makes it the best local action movie I’ve ever seen. As a drama, it’s pretty great as well. But now that I think about it, I actually have seen some real quality local films like Dinig Sana Kita and Endo, though they’re under completely different genres. So, okay, I’ll actually have to think about this. Which is good. That means we’re producing better and better movies. 😀