Directed by Lawrence Fajardo
Written by John Bedia

"What,like a bullet, can undeceive?" (Herman Melville)

Amok is well-oiled tumult, a chaos mechanism of wrong place-wrong time dynamics fed through a portmanteau that has everybody looking to Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu as point of reference, if only for how both hew to similar tropes of threading a line through disconnected lives suddenly thrown in the glare of blood and harm. But where Inarritu gets overwrought in preaching a grand design, not to mention a troubling hard-on for closure, Amok is more haphazard, has little to say that hasn't been said before, but so much to say it with, neither overreaching nor belaboring. If nothing else, it's a technical feat, of logistics and guerilla tactics and cutting. It's rigorous, precise.

The bustling intersection where it all comes down is both milieu and metaphor, and the one thing shared by the motley ensemble of has-beens and also-rans it corrals: they all just happen to be in the area. The cocky cop on the walkway waiting to rendezvous with an asset (Efren Reyes Jr., funny), the faded stuntman living alone with his rancid nostalgia and a rent girl sleeping in his bed (Mark Gil, funnier), the put-upon brother driving his cranky sister around and stuck in traffic (Archi Adamos), the ex-cop with a baby on the way and a chip on his shoulder (Dido De La Paz, a walking tour de force). If it wobbles here and there, it's mostly from spasms of bad acting and the patois ringing false. But in never lingering on one character longer than it should, it blurs the chinks into forgiveness. Brief snatches are all we get to see of these brief lives, not so much arcs as they never get to complete any. It's the point of everything here: how our stories don't so much end but are cut short halfway through the telling and often in a random blast of doom. There's a weariness to its nihilism that's more wounding for being so resigned. The world is a clusterfuck. And God is a bullet.


rico said...

"Well-oiled tumult"-- tang-na, astig. That says it right there. Filmmakers usually love talking a good game, but this is a "show-me" town. And in this picture at least, Law fully understood that, pulled up on his bootstraps, rolled his sleeves, ready to really scrap and throwdown, he, he. Kudos to him, Louie and Krisma. Dido was all fury! The really gifted ones can pull one out from the recesses of their own pieholes and work that "magic." In this case: scary magic. The guy was one pissed-off brother.

khavn said...

Ang mundo ay kumpol-betchot. At isang bala ang Diyos.

Mabie Alagbate said...

"cut short halfway through the telling and often in a random blast of doom" - the tragedy of the climax that never was. and, oh: THIRD! WOOT! :P