On the Job (2013)

On the Job (2013)

Run time: 121 min
Rating: 6.610
Genres: Action | Crime | Drama
Director: Erik Matti
Erik Matti, Michiko Yamamoto
Stars: Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre
Trivia: A gritty crime-thriller which centers four men struggling to survive and a make living for themselves and their respective love ones. Two men depicts an inmate which hired as contract … See full summary »
A gritty crime-thriller which centers four men struggling to survive and a make living for themselves and their respective love ones. Two men depicts an inmate which hired as contract killer and the two other are law enforcers and investigator which are caught in the loop of corrupt government officials. Mario is intend to retire after the parole has been given to him and Daniel a younger inmate and apprentice of Mario set to replace the job as hired killer. Joaquin and Francis are the police officer tangled in a conflict to do what their duty tells them or what the higher officers told them to do. The climax looms a battle between good and evil and the inevitable collision of the two groups lead to having their loved ones as collateral damage. Written by rodbyron
Country: Philippines
Release Date: 27 September 2013 (USA)
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  1. Post author

    On The Job has some intriguing stuff, it's a story about four lives connected in one conspiracy behind the law. What's going on is as many as its moral ambiguities. It is a heavy story, but it consistently delivers thanks to the people who are involved. The craft is excellent for giving an absorbing quality with pure tension. The stellar cast brings plenty of life within the characters. Beyond the surfaces, the film is already fascinating itself, but it's a very ambitious picture. OTJ is a rare modern Filipino film that has an actual engaging story to tell in a brilliantly slick and exhilarating way.

    The subjects of the film are the realities of crime and moral ambiguity. Even though the lead character's motivation is good, it won't make his job look any less terrible. It never glosses anything about what they do and that's the interesting part. There are no actual heroes and a dirty work will always be a dirty work, which provides absolute danger within the surface. The film is best at tension, every set piece is like a ticking bomb, it gets louder and louder until it fires to an unpredictable shock, then more action. It's amazing stuff. When there's no blood and gunshots, the film explores the characters. They are in fact not bad people after all. They have their own problems and only do those things to provide for their loved ones, though there's a fear that they might bring their work into their personal lives, but that just makes it human.

    Tatang is mostly ruthless, but Joel Torre gives all the humanity which balances the character's depth and criminal side. Gerald Anderson shines remarkably. His greatest feat is the arrogance he brings, makes his character feel more threatening. Piolo Pascual surprisingly has something beyond his typical charms. My favorite among is Joey Marquez, who gives the cop a natural rage and fear that can be relatable and somehow enjoyable to watch.

    The film never depicts Metro Manila as pleasant, it's like hell on earth where violence may happen anytime in the city. Well it is in fact one of the rotten places of the country. Other than that, the film has most the best things in a classic crime thriller: noir feel, anxiety filled action, twisted dark humor, and a cinematography that glamors around the filth. Director Erik Matti keeps everything interesting and magnetic.

    OTJ is a great surprise among the local blockbusters today. We don't usually get a well made Filipino movie like this nowadays unless it's an independent film. Otherwise, it's a compellingly grim crime drama that may possibly stuck in your mind in a while. Personally, I think this is the best film I've seen this year so far. Since it's not really the greatest ever, I think this is what we need. It has a lot of what's missing in most modern blockbusters. It also has the craftsmanship and down-to-earth performances that would impact more to the audience. With all the merits, OTJ is easily recommendable.

  2. Post author

    On The Job is exciting not only because of its story that tackled the gun-for-hire business, something that maybe unique in the Philippines, because of its rampant killings; it is also exciting because the birth of new Philippine cinema is now palpable.

    The past years have seen new writers and directors handle different urban poor stories, this one not only gives us a glimpse on the machinery of the killing business and how it affects the lives of the poor, but also let us see the powerful rich (the military) that runs the country.

    Every actor did a good job, although I feel Angel Aquino looks a little too glamorous for her role. The script was believable, the pacing was fast, the characters were given enough time to develop (except maybe Marquez's son's story that did not develop further) and most of all, I love the realistic ending. I also like that the movie left a glimmer of hope when the police partner recovered the phone. With all the horrors happening in the society, there is still hope.

    I think this is one of the year's best, I am happy that people went to see this movie and I hope other worthy films will get wider audience next time.

  3. Post author

    Mario (Joel Torre)and Daniel (Gerald Anderson) are convicts who are being sneaked out of prison and hired as hit men by a powerfully-connected syndicate. Mario is set for retiring since he is to be released from prison already, while Daniel is his apprentice and heir-apparent.

    After they bungle a job to execute a policeman, the secure web of protection around them begin to unravel as an idealistic NBI lawyer Francis Coronel Jr. (Piolo Pascual) and a maverick but honest policeman PO1 Joaquin Acosta (Joey Marquez) threaten to throw this assassination ring wide open to its highest levels.

    "On the Job" is a gritty, honest, no-holds-barred Filipino film. The script by Michiko Yamamoto and Erik Matti fearlessly trace the operations of this gun-for-hire business from the lowly trainees to the gunmen to the middlemen (Vivian Velez) to the connections inside the prison (William Martinez) to the police protectors (Lito Pimentel) to the higher echelons of the military.

    We also get to peek into the family lives of these men. Mario has a wife (Angel Aquino) who is cuckolding him and a daughter (Empress Schuck) in law school. Francis is married to the daughter (Shaina Magdayao) of a lawmaker (Michael de Mesa) who is the pawn of a corrupt general (Leo Martinez). Joaquin has been at odds with his boss, stuck at being PO1 even after 30 years of service, with a harried wife (Rosanna Roces) and a drug pusher as a son (JM de Guzman).

    The theme and the style is indie but the stars are big names. It may be considered distracting for indie purists, but this stunt casting of actors against type was actually part of the charm of this film.

    I have to admit though that the most difficult casting decision to accept was Gerald Anderson, not only because of his attractive mestizo looks (hitmen should not be too conspicuous, should they?), but because he had to act side by side with the flawless Joel Torre. Torre was a man possessed in this role, he was never out of character up to the very end, always very believable and realistic.

    Piolo Pascual postured a lot in the start, which made his characterization unconvincing at first. However when he got into the groove of his character, especially in the second half, he will get us over on his side.

    Joey Marquez was a puzzling choice of an actor for a character in this film. At first, during the teasers, I thought he was badly miscast in this role as a cop. But as I was watching the film, I realized the wisdom of his casting. He was key in providing the moments which served to lighten the intense mood this film creates.

    The technical aspects of the film are very good, particularly the cinematography and the film editing. The atmosphere created was very tense and exciting. The suspense was unbearable as the pacing is frenetic and you would not know what will happen with succeeding scenes. This film is NOT predictable.

    Despite being an excellent film, there are some cons, but relatively minor issues only. I have already mentioned how the casting of Anderson stretched believability. Also, the addition of what seemed to be unnecessary sex scenes for both Anderson and Pascual sort of derailed from the story a bit.

  4. Post author

    The story and pacing smoothly complimented each other. I like how the intensity just builds up right from the get go during the first scene up until the last one. Wonderfully moody cinematography combines with an excellent soundtrack and some breathlessly tight editing to create a surprisingly dark and nihilistic film.

    It's also great to see characters that were fleshed out especially that of the three main characters. We get to know them more instead of simply just following what they do. This is one of the things I like about the film in terms of characterization, we get a glimpse of their individual lives as opposed to just going right at the center of the conflict.

    This film pretty much shows what an ensemble really is. There are really no small roles here, as everyone's given something to do and they all did their parts well. From the opening assassination to the hospital shootout to the sequence that closes the film, the action beats in "On the Job" are technically polished while simultaneously visceral—even intimate—in their brutality. Matti and his cohorts have scored a home-run here.

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