On the Job: Movie Review

"On the Job" weaves a riveting, but more importantly, believable tale of corruption and crime. With a society gripped with gun-for-hires and the pork barrel issue, this timely take of Erik Matti will hit its mark. But minus the brilliant plot, the film still shines with outstanding performances from its cast, a unique cinematography that truly beholds and ultimately a film that proves that local films can definitely do and should do a better job. A local mainstream film like no other we have seen in years, "On the Job" hopefully encourages creativity in an industry controlled by romance and comedies.

Tatang (Joel Torre) initiates a young thug Daniel (Gerald Anderson) into the trade of gun-for-hires. Eventually, we find out that both men are prisoners - allowed to go out of jail whenever they need a hit accomplished. When Tatang is called upon by the warden and told of his parole, he soon is forced into retirement from his deadly trade and must ensure that the immature Daniel is up to take his reins. Sgt. Acosta (Joey Marquez) is a clean cop who is investigating murder within his area. Ironically, his honesty is also the same thing that has limited his career through the years. Soon, his investigation is stopped when his chief of police informs him that the case has been passed on to Atty. Francis Coronel Jr. (Piolo Pascual) - a member of the National Bureau of Investigation. The lives of these hit men and cops become entangled when a certain witness surfaces and may be the key to unravel the truth on this tale of corruption, power and greed.

"On the Job" is limited and at the same time propelled by the way it is structured. What we have is a crisscross between the elements of crime (with Tatang and Daniel) and the law (with Acosta and Francis) and those in the middle. At times, this style proves to be brilliant with the contrasting contexts of good and bad paralleling each other but, at the same time, the plot development takes a slight hit as we get less and less details and some confusion sets in. We also felt that there was a tendency to add in too many minor characters - characters that may be featured in a couple of scenes never to be seen again. Overall though, by the times the main protagonists physically meet, "On the Job" will have you at its reins easily and finding out the overall arc is the only thing on your mind. More than the story itself, we found the cinematography of "On the Job" as its best and most impressive asset. Never have we seen Manila look so authentic and real on the big screen and the violent and grotesque realism to the action scenes only adds to its effectiveness. Finally, acting was top notch with, unsurprisingly, the veteran Joel Torre leading the pack. His performance alone will have you in conflict if his character deserves pity or not and ultimately blurs the line of morality. "On the Job" is one film every Filipino should support and its a no-brainer considering how much you will get from it.

Rating: 4 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- outstanding acting from its leads
- a riveting and captivating tale of corruption and greed and ultimately goodness that's believable and rooted in reality

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- there were some lapses in character development and story

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