Jakarta (2000)

May 8, 2003 • Film, Reviews

Directed by Jung Chosin

Think you’re good at figuring out movies? This one will out-smart you at every turn. Director Jung is the cat to your mouse, playing with your expectations, giving them each a good twist and standing them on their heads.

It seems like this might be a fun bank caper movie. Three separate groups of bank robbers decide to rob the same bank on the same day. Wah-wah. Lots of laughs and some cuddly robbers winning our hearts with their good-natured, reluctant-criminal ways. Right? Think again. The director takes a dive into a dark and violent world where the complicated web of crosses and double-crosses leaves you surprised and unsure of anything.

Just when you’re completely disoriented, the whole movie stops, backs up, and begins retelling itself from the beginning! It’s here where the story shines as it begins to unravel each bank robber’s backstory. We find everyone has their own private agenda and each of their stories connects to the others in surprising ways.

This is not a profound film or work of artistic genius. It’s not a perfect film: the ending is a little too sentimental, the first act too long and grim. However it is a fun and smart film. The writer and director do a stand out job of keeping so many fractured subplots going and still have it all make sense. The joy of this movie is its ability to surprise and tweak the intelligence filmgoers weary of formulaic fare.

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