Photo courtesy of Viva Entertainment YouTube Channel
"Maria" had a lot of potential to be the local rendition of "John Wick". The first half hour was surprisingly splendid but as the film dragged on with its convoluted plot and unnecessary side plots and side characters, "Maria" finds itself slowly being bogged down and dragged down into mediocrity.

Photo courtesy of Viva Entertainment YouTube Channel
Maria (Cristine Reyes) has a dark past that she has kept from her family. But when her former associate (Germaine de Leon) accidentally sees her in public, the former assassin finds herself and her family in grave danger.
Photo courtesy of Viva Entertainment YouTube Channel
For the first 45 minutes or so, "Maria" had us in awe. The production values were top-notch. Its popping visuals, booming tracks, and basic yet acceptable choreography made the experience feel like a foreign-produced film. This definitely had more interesting fight scenes than "BuyBust". But midway, the flaws of "Maria" showed up as the film drastically slows down due to its narrative and pacing issues. The biggest culprit was its over-complicated plot that featured various plot points and characters that had little or no effect to the film's end game. For example, a Governor was being touted all throughout the film as one major character that needed to be assassinated. This was used as the reason why Maria was discovered and subsequently targeted by the film's main antagonists, the De La Vegas. The Governor never shows up after. In fact, the film could have taken a straight-forward route without the Governor aspect and instead focused heavily on Maria just being discovered and it could have had the same result. There are also side characters that did not have any proper conclusions. Probably they are being saved for a sequel but its jarring nonetheless. Additionally, "Maria" heavily-borrows from other Hollywood action films like "John Wick" and "Jack Reacher". While there's nothing wrong with being inspired by these films, some scenes seem like complete copies of those that was ultimately disappointing. Overall, "Maria" was enjoyable but had trouble finding its footing with a convoluted and unsatisfying narrative. For fights alone, this was a winner. Even with its flaws, it is still sheds some positive light that the local film industry is slowly but surely ramping up their games.
Photo courtesy of Viva Entertainment YouTube Channel
Rating: 3 reels

Why you should watch it:
- the cinematography is something else
- the soundtrack fits well with the film's feel and fight sequences.

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the overall plot needed to be simpler
- the film ends without a satisfying conclusion

You can catch "Maria" via Netflix streaming right now.

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