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Non-Review Review: Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is a tough film to classify.

Visually and narratively, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts feels very much like a western. Writer and director Mouly Surya crafts a story that is recognisable as a classic western tale. The eponymous lead character lies alone in a remote part of Sumba, managing a farm following the death of her husband. When bandits arrive to raid the property, Marlina finds herself forced to embark on a journey across the region in search of justice – or maybe just even peace. Along the way, there is violence, retribution and reconciliation.

Director Mouly Surya and cinematographer Yunus Pasolang tell the story using the visual language of the western. The film features any number of striking and beautiful compositions, the camera taking in the sparse beauty of the Indonesian countryside in rich browns and yellows, the deep blue of the ocean occasionally visible in the distance or the background. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts even includes sequences of its protagonist riding on horseback, hoping to deliver a bounty to the forces of justice in a seemingly lawless land.

However, these trappings serve to provide a framework for a much more compelling and fascinating character study. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is a quiet and introspective film, one that finds a strange warmth in the quiet resolve of its central character.

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Non-Review Review: The Raid 2

The Raid is a modern action classic. It’s a rather simple premise executed with incredible flair – a bunch of cops find themselves trapped in a high-raise tower with an army of organised thugs, forced to fight their way to freedom. It’s not the most original of plots, but it works quite well as a framework upon which to hang some genuinely breathtaking martial arts set pieces. It was a showcase for director Gareth Evans and fight choreographers Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian.

The Raid 2 has much to recommend it – with Evans and his collaborators dramatically increasing the mayhem captured on screen. There are any number of memorable fight sequences contained within the film, with Evans, Uwais and Ruhian finding all sorts creative manners of dispatch. The stunts are bigger, the scale larger and the ambition more palpable. In terms of sheer action quotient, the bar has been well and truly raised.

It is a bit of a bloody mess...

It is a bit of a bloody mess…

Unfortunately, The Raid 2 lacks the elegant simplicity of its predecessor. Confined to a single building for one hundred minutes, The Raid was tight and claustrophobic – moving like a locomotive. Running almost an hour longer, The Raid 2 is rather bloated and overstated. Evans’ ambition extends beyond stunt work and fight sequences, and so he tries to craft a crime epic that seems half-way between Infernal Affairs and Only God Forgives, lacking the humanity of the former and the operatic sensibilities of the later.

The result is an overblown mess of a film that really comes together for a powerhouse final forty minutes. The last act of The Raid 2 manages to capture the frantic momentum of the first film, with a sense of constantly escalating scale and brutality. Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t quite measure up.

Raiding the pantry...

Raiding the pantry…

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