Director Michael Tuviera’s THE JANITOR (2014) starts with a gruesome crime, an intense beginning climax, and an efficient run of early events. It is an action-drama, reminiscent of Neil Jordan’s THE BRAVE ONE, Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED, and Ben Affleck’s THE TOWN. It may not be as action packed, but the gruesomeness of its scenes are delicately scattered throughout the work. It may not be an obra maestra, but it shows great screenwriting, outstanding performances, and creative direction.
Crisanto (Dennis Trillo), a suspended police officer, temporarily teaches in a security agency, while waiting for his reinstatement in the Force. On the side, he still acts as an assistant to his former boss, played gallantly by Richard Gomez, in dealing with highly sensitive cases. When the Chief of Police got information on the suspects of a recent robbery-massacre, he contacted Crisanto’s former head to conduct a “clean-up.”
THE JANITOR comes with a powerful male cast that makes one wonder: why haven’t we thought of bringing them together before? Derek Ramsey, Jerald Napoles, Raymond Bagatsing, Alex Medina, Ricky Davao, Richard Gomez, and Dante Rivero all gave equally powerful performances. The thing with the action genre is that we usually expect a notch higher from its villains, but Trillo, being in the lead, wonderfully balances it out. He was as stunning and as impressive as the rest of the cast, and presents a powerful dilemma that even us, the audiences want to avoid.
Tuviera very well knows what he’s doing. He uses a familiar Hollywood-action formula and presents it in a film festival where pedanticism is the norm, and he succeeds. He effectively constructs a formulaic set of plot lines, while delicately preserving a payoff that you will never know. If that’s not innovation, I don’t know what is.
I sat on my seat for almost 120 minutes looking for holes, and mistakes, but THE JANITOR failed to oblige. It may be an action film that does not offer you a satisfying resolution, but it is a resolution still. A resolution that will force you to face a reality we painfully see, even in ourselves.
Watch it! Watch it!
4 STARS OUT OF 5