Monday, June 15, 2015

CURRENT REELS: THE MO BROTHERS' "KILLERS"


Killers (2014), the hyper violent film about addiction to murder, both in the name of pleasure and justice, has had me in its death grip for weeks. The first viewing was surprising, the second impulsive, the third felt disturbingly necessary. My need to revisit this story began to mirror the ever-winding rabbit hole one of main characters unwittingly descends into. 

To be clear, there are two protagonists - Namura, the pro in Tokyo, and Bayu, the novice in Jakarta. Bayu, an investigative journalist, spends much of his free time surfing the dark net, lingering in one chat room in particular, where he gets acquainted with Namura's murderous work. He watches the videos of Namura's dying victims, as the focus shifts to their last breaths, blinks, and helpless whispers for mercy. Despite being horrified, he always comes back. There are high ranking officials he knows are abusing power, and whom he wants to see dead, but it is not until he is abducted, beaten to a pulp, and forced to defend himself by lethal means that he begins to rationalize murder. He films the aftermath of his adventure and posts it in the same chat room. Namura is impressed with the kills, but suggests that the first time is never hard, because it is always an impromptu affair, a crime of necessity and opportunity. The second, however, is the real deal, and requires conscious, meticulous planning. The games begin, or rather what Namura views as a game of chills and thrills, while Bayu searches for reasons to vindicate his own brutality.

The bigger thesis here is the conflict of murder for pleasure versus murder for justice, and why many of us try so vehemently to make allowances for the latter, perhaps because it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Unlike pleasure, justice is a man made concept that is not recognized or practiced among any other species. Another striking detail - Namura's murder for pleasure is exclusive to women, whereas Bayu's murder for justice is exclusive to men. Is this coincidence, or a spectacle of Namura's decadence in his choice to prey on the "weaker" sex? Women = pleasure / men = business? There is one exception for Namura, a male kill from which he derives much pleasure, but its initiation is driven by vengeance and the need to reassert his own manhood, because the male victim humiliated and brutally assaulted him earlier.

I hesitate to call Killers an enjoyable experience, for that has moral implications I am not ready to parse. This isn't your run of the mill torture porn fiasco, which is precisely what makes its unabashed violence more challenging to dismiss. And yet, despite all good reason, I yearn incessantly for another taste. Encore!

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