Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Film Review: On The Job (2013)

On The Job (Review)
Philippines/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a more consistent and much more thrilling second half."

In the Philippines, two prisoners are released from prison to conduct hits for their boss -- and they return with the perfect alibi.

On The Job follows both Tatang (Joel Torre) and Daniel (Gerald Anderson), the prisoners released to kill, and NBI Agent Francis Coronel (Piolo Pascual) and Sgt. Acosta (Joey Marquez), who team up to solve the case. Although the general concept is simple, the first half of the film is a bit convoluted; we're quickly introduced to many characters and ideas, such as the entire concept of prisoners being released to kill. It takes a while to iron out, and the film doesn't really become an "action" film until the second half. The second half unravels the mystery and becomes more of a suspenseful conspiracy film. Fortunately, the second half is amazing and the ending is great.

That's not to say the first half is completely useless. No, it does work in introducing the concept, and it's always interesting to see how these foreign prisons operate; I'd say it's subtly insightful for the setting. However, it's not very efficient in its storytelling. There's so much going on and the storytelling simply isn't fluid enough. You'll likely understand what's going on, but it'll take a while for it sink in. The first half offers some excitement, but not nearly as much as the second half. The latter half of the film is a masterful suspense thriller with some memorable chases and unbelievable tension.

There was some stiff acting and dialogue, but the acting was generally great. I really enjoyed Piolo Pascual and Joel Torre's performances. The cinematography stood out; these gritty streets are elegant thanks to the great cinematography. The music isn't memorable, looking back, but it does blend well with the film. The film is well paced, as well. Director and writer Erik Matti crafts a masterful suspense film, but the story suffers from too much compression; this is one of the few films that could've benefitted from a longer runtime, especially considering the immensely interesting concept.

Overall, On The Job is a very good film. The first half of the film is unnecessarily complicated, but it works in introducing the key concepts and characters. And, fortunately, the film does iron out for a more consistent and much more thrilling second half. A rewarding experience for dedicated filmgoers.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, sex and nudity.

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