Thought ‘Goyo’ was already the worst well-received movie of the year. But after watching Erik Matti’s latest, I guess we now have a winner. BuyBust/Anne Curtis rips Goyo/Paulo Avelino’s pretty face to shreds. Gloriously. Imagine that. Would probably make a good movie.
Save for one action sequence fueled by a punk rock song, where Anne Curtis tries to ward off the angry wives and mistresses of Gracia Ni Maria using an aluminum palanggana while Brandon Vera does the same with an umbrella, Erik Matti’s BuyBust is just endless gunfights and hand to hand combat that range from sloppy to well-executed, some rapid fire editing, some shaky cam, some unsustained tension, plenty of senseless violence (i.e., one poor lady got her head cut off), and lots of dead cops, henchmen, and poor civilians.
Props goes to the movie’s impeccable production design (i.e., the slums of Gracia Ni Maria were built from scratch), some inventive chase and fight sequence, and commendable performances from its players, specially Anne Curtis, Brandon Vera, Victor Neri and a scene-stealing Joross Gamboa, all of which are lost, drowned—wasted—in a cavalcade of tiring repetition, questionable portrayal of informal settlers, and its supposed but self-defeating commentary. That is, the movie’s reading of the government’s war on drugs is so wrongheaded one wonders if its makers haven’t checked the news in a long time before or when they made the movie.
Take it out of the context of Duterte’s drug war and BuyBust still works as an action-thriller that beats, “out-Raids” Gareth Evan’s 2011 movie—but only in terms of volume of onscreen violence, not in terms of execution, style, quality.
Sure, some could still put a spin on it and ignore how the movie further marginalize the marginalized. Oggs Cruz in his review praised the movie for the supposed discourse the movie invites, on the numbing effect of state-sponsored violence. I want to know what hybrid pot he smoked when he saw the movie and wrote that review. Not that I want to have what he had, I’m just curious how high he was.
The movie’s plot and inherent commentary is seemingly conceived from an alternate reality. Where poor people are just mindless hordes automatically hostile to law enforcers. Where cops are unquestioningly heroic but also inexplicably naive (i.e., the switching of location in their operation was tell-tale sign of a trap). And the 16 million people who voted for Duterte are nothing but an angry mob, ready to kill or get killed (the movie implies that Matti, an outspoken critic of the current administration, sees it this way) and the only real victims of the drug war are the good cops just trying to do their job.
Those poor people, they had it coming and they only got themselves to blame.
BuyBust is supposedly Anti-Drug War, it is actually Anti-Poor—which is not the same as Anti-Poverty. It can’t be against the drug war if it’s also against the victims of it. That does not make sense. Totally. And not totally making sense does not a good action movie make.