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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 8, 2014

10,000 Hours Review: For A Thriller, Not Enough Cinematic Thrillers

WE KNOW it won most of the awards in the Metro filmfest (for one thing, its technical aspects and production values are mostly good), but honestly, “10,000 Hours” does not make much sense to us. It’s touted to be about corruption in government but the way this is shown is quite hazy.

The core of the story lies in the past concerning three young cops (Alden Richards, Joem Bascon and Alchris Galura), the head of the kidnap for ransom gang they’re hunting down (Antonio Aquitania) and the witness who is vital to the story (Ping Medina.) Years later, Alden will be played by Robin Padilla as Gabriel Alcaraz, an unblemished incorruptible senator. (Don’t ask us how the very mestizo Alden morphs into Robin.) Joem and Alchris are played by Michael de Mesa and Dennis Marasigan, respectively. Ping is played by his own dad, Pen Medina.

The wonder of it all is why they didn’t get someone else to play the older Antonio. When Antonio escapes from jail to take revenge on Robin, he looks exactly the same as when he was captured by Alden and his colleagues. Gosh, we didn’t know the fountain of youth can be found in prison. Everyone got older but Antonio had maintained his youthful looks after all these years!

As a senator, Robin is shown preparing a privilege speech that will expose how corrupt the country’s president is (Bibeth Orteza). The president’s men frame him up by killing his friend San Juan (Dennis Marasigan), so Robin quickly leaves the country surreptitiously with the help of a TV journalist, Maya (Bela Padilla). He escapes to Amsterdam where he finds help in Isabel (Carla Humphries), the girl he rescued from kidnapper Antonio years ago. How Isabel learns about his arrival in Amsterdam is never explained. There are ellipses in the script that seems to assume we’ll just supply whatever information is missing by connecting the dots ourselves.

The movie is really about how to evade the law and it looks like it’s so easy as those looking for Robin seem so stupid. This must really be based on real life because we all know that Sen. Panfilo Lacson (on whose life the film is said to be loosely based) was never found while he was in hiding. Up to now, so many fugitives like Palparan, the missing Ecleo of Dinagat Islands, and the Reyes brothers of Palawan have just vanished into thin air and law enforcement agents searching for them just can’t find them.

When Robin goes on the run, the movie should provide more cinematic thrills and be more exciting but it doesn’t. Instead of moving forward in a thrilling manner, it just gets stunted in a status quo. It doesn’t take us to the point where the suspense can be killing and drive us to the edge of our seats in anticipation. We’re really wondering why the film won best editing when the “laylay” factor in so many sequences is just so evident. Even the chase scene involving a boat in the canals of Amsterdam fails to inject adrenalin into the lethargic on screen proceedings.

For instance, Robin’s search for Pen Medina as his personal witness who can clear up his name doesn’t get him anywhere, until Pen himself shows up, on his own. How exciting is that? For drama, his family in the Philippines are shown (Mylene Dizon as wife, with four kids) while agonizing about their missing dad who doesn’t seem to really care for them. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a twist in the story where a character Robin trusts so much turns out to have a very personal ax to grind against him. We wonder why this element was introduced at all when it didn’t contribute anything to the betterment of the narrative since the character had second thoughts about the planned revenge anyway.

Director Joyce Bernal obviously has lofty ambitions in doing this film. Well, it did give her the very first best director award in her career. But as a film that aims to seriously deal with corruption in our country, we’re afraid “10,000” is not that all persuasive. You’d think the hero would be able to accomplish a lot in those 10,000 hours that he was away from his country and his family, but honestly, he didn’t do much of anything but just hide and wait for the truth to come out by itself.