Review

'Killers' skillfully plots twisting moral dilemmas

'Killers' skillfully manipulates viewers to first side with villains, and then question their own judgment

"Killers" presents viewers with a series of moral dilemmas that are often just as uncomfortable to confront as the graphic violence onscreen.

After disgraced Indonesian journalist Bayu (Oka Antara) kills two muggers in self-defense and uploads the cellphone footage online, Japanese serial killer and snuff filmmaker Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) reaches out to him in the belief that they are kindred spirits.

At Nomura's prodding, Bayu plots to assassinate corrupt politician Dharma (Ray Sahetapy). Meanwhile, Nomura befriends florist Hisae (Rin Takanashi) after witnessing her push her autistic brother (Tensui Sakai) toward traffic to get him run over.

This seemingly generic thriller has plenty of twists in store, but perhaps none as surprising and impressive as its ability to manipulate the viewer — first to side with the villains, then to question one's own core beliefs.

You see, the two killers are nothing alike. Nomura preys on the weak; Bayu fights for his life. But empathy shifts with revelations of other facets of the characters.

Directors Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto — collectively known as the Mo Brothers — skillfully handle the moral complexity of the script by Tjahjanto and Takuji Ushiyama. With some of its biggest twists happening out of focus and in the background, the film rewards the most observant viewers.

"Killers."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 2 hours, 18 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.

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