It was 7pm on a rainy Saturday night when we reached SM Manila. Planning to go to CCP that day to catch the 6pm showing, I miscalculated the traffic along Espanya and that landed us into the last full show of BuyBust.
This was the opening film of this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival so I guess it still feels like I’m joining the film festival.
Well what do I say – I was half afraid and half excited to watch this and it was almost seemingly perfect to watch an action film set in Manila in SM Manila. I was scared because I think I will not be able to sleep after watching this because I know it will be full of action scenes, and conspiracies and death, death, death. But my thoughts did not prepare me for what I am about to experience.
In one word, it was brutal. Watching BuyBust is like watching a bomb going to explode – and then dealing with the aftershocks after. We are watching how they would execute the operation (which we know will fail by the way) and even if we know that things will go south, we still watch, holding our breath. And then things suddenly gone awry, you know it is – and I really like Joross’s sudden entrance which signalled something wrong is going to happen. With bated breath and within seconds the shooting scenes began and it didn’t end.
It was an action film I watched like no other (but who am I kidding – I have not really watched a lot of action films) and there were a lot of scenes that I covered my face or covered the screen because it was gruesome at its finest level.
But I am not here to discuss how brilliant the action scenes were – I’ll give that to the experts. I am just here typing my thoughts away – with what I liked, not so much liked and what is its effect on me. Because – I needed to watch two episodes of Gilmore Girls for me to be able to sleep after this.
So yeah, the cast was amazing. Anne was committed to her character (and there were a lot of badass scenes), Alex Calleja fills the movie with just the right amount of humor 🙂 (imagine how he twice pretended to be dead and his subtle subtle comeback lines), Joross’s portrayal of a batshit crazy addict – complete with that glowing shades and that pushcart bomb near the end, Brandon Vera that is so reminiscent of the action hero from before – you can never put him down he is invincible! (I still did wish he made it), and then Arjo Atayde with his bathrobe ensemble (haha, sorry) but really, even if he only has minutes on the screen he played it in such a way that he IS scary even without handling a gun.
It was a little over half the film when we were thinking that the film mostly did is to portray action scenes (also because the bgm during some of the action scenes did not suit my taste) but hey, it IS an action film. And just when I thought we were nearing the end it was hell NOT! They have a a lot of bullets saved for the last minutes of the film.
So, yeah all I can say is that it was brutal, it was gruesome but it was riveting until the end because all of us, all we wanted was to get out of the maze, the labyrinth (also kudos to the makeshift slum areas – it looked and feel real!) all we wanted was to get out of this alive with a few scratches and I was almost glad she made it but wait for it. Haha.
Also, the shot in the end was a depiction of the poor to middle class to the maharlikas of this country, or it can be like Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao (as also told by my ate) who also made a lightbulb moment in the middle of watching. Actually, in the middle of it we were thinking that no, this is getting too out-of-control, too unreal that she said no it’s not – it’s actually an amalgam of maybe all the buy bust operations. It was a representation of everything.
What’s actually disturbing and a bit sad really is that at the end it leaves me with nothing. It just made me distrust the operations because we all know what goes on in the media is half truths only but I still hoped this film would deliver its redemption side. Most films that I really liked inspired me to do something after I watched it – Heneral Luna made me take action and be involved in my country, Birdshot was the most disturbing but it made me mourn for loss, Sana Dati inspired me that there are so many awesome films out there I just have to find it and the symbolism of moving on at the end, these are to say a few but no I did not compare this film to them.
My actual mistake really is that I somehow associated this with the film The Janitor.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way – and I made my peace with it – this film really did deliver (in some aspects that is) And I guess this will be more suited to western audience but I guess that’s just my own opinion. After all, we are all learning too much in a small amount of time. And I guess this by far, the best Erik Matti film that I have seen. (but I still like OTJ or HTF more :))