Killers (Indonesia/Japan, 2014)
Directed by Indonesian duo The Mo Brothers (Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel), Killers is a psychological thriller starring Kazuki Kitamura as Nomura, a slick, good-looking serial killer in Japan who posts videos of his deeds online anonymously. Oka Antara of The Raid 2 (2014) is cast as Bayu, a journalist in Indonesia whose life has begun to fall apart due to a failed attempt at exposing a very powerful political figure. Bayu has seen Nomura’s videos and they somehow trigger his dark side to come to the surface when he is hijacked by a shady cab driver and his partner in crime while on his way home one night. A struggle ensues and Bayu kills both men, then records their dying breaths on video. He uploads it to the Internet and is then contacted by Nomura. The men develop a weird connection and Bayu goes from mild-mannered family man to a vengeful killer at Nomura’s urging, posting his kills online. Nomura, a true psychopath, believes Bayu to be a kindred spirit, urging the journalist to continue his downward spiral. He then shows up in Jakarta unexpectedly, further complicating things for Bayu.
Overall, Killers is a great film, although its 137 minute running time may be a bit long for some. There is plenty of blood and gore, not to mention some very disturbing torture scenes, so the film is not for the squeamish. However, the real hook is the frightening story which has the cold and calculating Nomura toying with the vulnerable Bayu, right until the very end.
The characters themselves are an interesting contrast: Nomura is a slick and wealthy executive, experienced at torture and killing (which he enjoys), while Bayu stumbles through murderous situations, finding them to be a necessary and justifiable evil rather than a source of pleasure. Bayu makes many mistakes and Nomura watches with amusement. Nomura is reminiscent of Patrick Bateman of American Psycho (2000) in his cool detachment and lack of emotions while Bayu is somewhat sympathetic in his motivations and the predicament he ultimately finds himself in.
Killers is well-directed, has a fantastic script by Tjahjanto and producer Takuji Ushiyama, and the acting is superb. The compelling plot moves to an inevitable yet satisfying conclusion, leaving the viewer to ponder the ethical question of the possibility of murder being acceptable in certain situations. The Mo Brothers have delivered an entertaining and impressive thriller so I look forward to seeing more from this diabolical duo.