Monday, September 16, 2019

Watch Me Kill


Luciana (Jean Garcia) is a gunman for hire and quite skilled in what she does, being the go-to hitman of choice from criminals all the way to ordinary citizens in pursuit of revenge that they themselves cannot exact. Everything goes well for her and she gets paid more than enough while maintaining a modest lifestyle in an old house in the woods far from prying eyes. And then she meets Franco (Jay Manalo), a crime boss interested in a rare diamond that an eccentric military retiree scooped out from a river. The task proves to be a walk in the park for Luciana, leaving half a dozen collateral damage in her wake. What she didn’t expect, though, is for a young girl she names Aurora (Junyka Santarin) to be involved in the fray. Once the conscience she thought she already lost a long time ago kicks in, she begins to rethink her decisions in life.

For anyone who has been following Garcia’s acting career, we are no strangers to her brand of villainy menace in making naive bario lasses cry with just a cold stare as well as her unique skills in threatening other people’s wellbeing. The difference is that on TV she always has her gang of goons to do the dirty work for her. She doesn’t have that luxury here. What she gets instead is a selection of fire arms that she herself puts to good use. You just have to bank on suspension of disbelief and believe that she is a sharpshooter.

True to its title, Watch Me Kill is all about watching the lead character shoot a dozen or so people onscreen like she had a quota to fulfill. Spoiler alert: She doesn’t, but collateral damage doesn’t really seem to bother her one bit, so this argument is rather pointless. But of course, Garcia is not getting any younger, and hand-to-hand combat are few and far between. Even that one taxing scene where she hangs from the ceiling in chains seems to have used camera angles, or perhaps a body double, in lieu of actual stunts. Of course, I wasn’t part of the crew so feel free to correct me if it was indeed her who did that scene.

In any case, her stoic yet malicious glares combined with her signature hoarse scream during the tense scenes are still there for you to enjoy, just with less hysterics this time around, which is a welcome change. That helps a lot in establishing a rather gloomy atmosphere overall. Taking advantage of Pampanga’s unique landscape as background for the violence, what you get is a quiet exposition that lends an aura of mystery to the narrative.

Last year saw the arrival of movies like BuyBust and We Will Not Die Tonight, which showcased varying levels of violence to titillate their audiences. Watch Me Kill is not as much of a show-off like those other two. Instead, it relies on ambiguous silence and landscape cinematography to keep you hooked. The storyline is more in the vein of a low-budget indie take on a gender-swapped Taken, but with less action and more quiet moments that dabble into psychological thriller territory from time to time.

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