Tag Archives: AJ Muhlach

tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Double Barrel’ is Too Trashy to Take Seriously

The sobering realities of the drug war are bypassed in this trashy action thriller

NBHD movie 0-2 half ticketDouble Barrel tells the story of married couple Jeff and Martha (AJ Muhlach and Phoebe Walker). At the start of the movie, Jeff gets arrested for being a drug pusher. Later, when the police are made to slow down their operations, Jeff is recruited into becoming a hitman for the police. He takes orders from Police Inspector Bagani (Jeric Raval), who is intent on continuing his violent war on drugs in spite of pressure from his superiors. And when one of Jeff’s jobs goes wrong, Martha is forced to join up as well. The husband and wife are soon stuck in a very dangerous position, having earned the ire of powerful criminals while working for people who care little for their plight.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.36.50 PMThis movie takes on serious matters, but it’s pretty hard to take seriously. A big part of that has to do with just how trashy it is, how much it just wants to deliver puerile thrills and action movie explosions amid this context of very real tragedy. The movie is unable or unwilling to really get into the sad realities of the drug war, its story brazenly capitalizing on the zeitgeist to provide an empty platform for the kind of juvenile filmmaking that went out of fashion years ago.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.37.00 PMTo highlight the juvenile nature of this project, it could be pointed out that the full title of this movie is Double Barrel (Sige Iputok Mo!). From this ignoble impulse springs a film that, while claiming to be based on a true story, does not do anything to reflect the sobering realities of this war on drugs. In lieu of trying to say anything trenchant about the situation, it stages an absurd car chase, films two sex scenes, and depicts a world where everyone killed in the drug war was a rightful victim. And it does all this with a barrage of pointless Dutch angles that only serve to make everything look sillier.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.37.26 PMIt is really strange how the movie leaves enough wiggle room to portray Bagani’s murderous crusade as a righteous campaign. It certainly gets in the way of the dramatic choice later in the film, as the central couple is never really confronted with the moral choice of having to target someone innocent within the strange, medieval logic of the picture. In fact, the characters spend a lot of time talking about how their victims have already ruined the lives of many people, and that they had their deaths coming to them.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.37.41 PMThrough it all, the movie never makes much out of its characters. Jeff and Martha have all the personality of two hollow blocks lying on the side of the road. There is no consistency in their characterizations, no sense at all given to the choices that they make. They’re cast badly as well. AJ Muhlach and Phoebe Walker probably shouldn’t be the first choice to play a couple living in poverty. The film seems to end up covering them in bronzer, trying to make them look darker than they really are. Neither one is able to make anything out of the characters.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 6.38.06 PMDouble Barrel ends with a title card that says that this all sprang from “Master Director Toto Natividad.” One could certainly make an argument for Natividad’s place in Filipino cinema, but it doesn’t make for a very flattering image for the director to give himself that title in his own movie. In any case, this movie would actually serve as an argument against that designation, as Double Barrel (Sige Iputok Mo!) is pretty poor on all levels. It is a puerile work that claims verisimilitude but only ever really aims for puerile thrills.

DOUBLE BARREL IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECT CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.