BuyBust (2018)

BuyBust
Director: Erik Matti
Writer: Anton C. Santamaria, Erik Matti
Cast: Anne Curtis, Brandon Vera, Victor Neri, Arjo Atayde, Levi Ignacio, Alex Calleja, Lao Rodriguez
Part of: surprise movie at the /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2018
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Plot:
Nina (Anne Curtis) is a police officer trying to do right. But ever since her entire squad was murdered in a sting against the drug cartels in Manila, she is itching for an opportunity to hit back against them. When a new mission is announced, it appears that she will finally get that chance. She and her new squad make their way into the slums. But things don’t go as planned, and they soon find themselves in a very dire situation.

When it was revealed that BuyBust was the surprise film at the /slash, I was very excited. I had been looking forward to seeing this film, hoping basically for The Raid with a female protagonist. Unfortunately, the film didn’t fulfill my expectations for it, despite a suckerpunch of an ending.

The film poster showing a woman with her fist in her hand in front of a colorful background.

As I mentioned, I really wanted to like the film and went into it with high hopes. And the beginning wasn’t that bad, but when the actual bust, that is the action, started, the film lost me completely. I just didn’t think that the fight choreographies were good enough for a film that is built on so much fighting. Plus, the camera work didn’t work for me at all, making the fights seem worse than they (probably) were. It just got repetitive very quickly.

Especially since they didn’t take enough time to introduce the team that works with Nina, so when people from the team start dying, my reaction to it was pretty callous. I just didn’t care. If I had seen a little more of their personalities, I am sure that I would have felt different about it.

Anne Curtis in the film.

The ending managed to pull things around, though, as it suddenly makes the implicit criticism of a broken system very explicit, making it obvious to even the hardest “war on drugs” hardliner that the film really doesn’t think that it works. In the same breath, it questions the apparent heroism of that small team we have been following so far, and the senseless dying their mission includes.

But that statement could have probably been made in 90 minutes instead of over two hours and with nicer fight scenes. I appreciate the point they were making, but the execution just didn’t work for me.

Anne Curtis in the film.

Summarizing: Doesn’t really come together.

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