Netflix is really REALLY hoping that you dig its original programming, you guys. The cord-cutting catalyst recently cut its digital library by 30% as it continues to shift focus towards its original dramas like Orange is the New Black and less literally original programming like the amazing (seriously, watch it) Happy Valley. But, as much as they’d like to cram their streaming service full of their own original content, there just isn’t enough House of Cards et al. to go around. With more and more services popping up and grabbing exclusives (just have a slightly more user-friendly interface, Amazon, and I’m yours completely) they’re finding it a bit more difficult to pad themselves with actual, watchable movies.
Luckily for Netflix, I fucking love watching garbage.
And since their search code directory has become available, I am now able to more accurately pinpoint the exact sort of garbage I feel like watching. Join me now, dear readers, as we take a peek into all those glorious titles you skip over on your way to just binge watch Parks and Rec for like the fortieth time because fuck it you had a long day and it’s just a nice relaxing show to fall asleep to. It’s time to give those low-rated titles a chance. It’s time…for…
…It’s probably also time for me to learn how to properly photoshop. But I digress.
For my first foray into the dark underbelly of Netflix, I chose Netflix Genre Code “11804,” which corresponds to “Independent Action & Adventure,” because sometimes I really want to watch things blow up without the unnecessary frills of a budget or a recognizable cast distracting me from the action. There was a multitude of titles to choose from, if a multitude is twenty-five, so I chose three at random: “Guardian,” “11 Blocks,” and “American Muscle.” Readers can be assured that I shall apply a critical eye to each of these narrative works, exploring their various themes and character developments with all the insight Graves and Noah put into their reviews of actual films.
First up is Guardian.
A wholly confusing film about the perils of motherhood, Guardian is damn near impossible to search for on Google, because of that one newspaper that just keeps hogging all of the hits like greedy stoner. I was able to figure out, from its IMDB page, that it was directed by the prolific Helfi C.H. Kardit, who not only directed eighteen other films in his home country of Indonesia, but also wrote eight of said films (including Guardian), while still finding time to author his own IMDB bio. Here is an excerpt:
“In 2014 he was released an action movie with international cast Sarah Carter ( Final destination 2 , Falling skies )”
He sure was.
The basic premise of Guardian is that a Mother and Daughter (whose names I cannot recall. It isn’t important.) are being chased by two separate groups of terrible henchmen because the Daughter in question was a witness to human trafficking when she was ten years old and a greedy cocaine-loving Indonesian politician who was heading up the drug trade at the time wants to clear up any lose ends before he becomes President. Here, he defends his shady past:
The experience he is talking about is human and cocaine trafficking, to be clear. I could go more in depth as to the intricacies of the plot, about how the person we initially think is the Daughter’s Mother is, in fact, not the Daughter’s Mother, but was merely guarding her while her actual Mother (married to the above shady politician and played by SARAH CARTER OF FINAL DESTINATION 2 FAME) was in prison for her husband’s crimes. I could speak on the character of ROY, the only name I could remember from the film because it is so wholly unique, and how I was never entirely sure if he was working for the police, or for the politician, and I don’t think ROY was sure, either. Here is Roy:
I could talk about the Daughter’s best friend, who is dragged along on this adventure before being promptly abandoned and kidnapped by Shady Politician, and doesn’t seem to have parents or anyone else in her life who is even remotely concerned for her well-being. I could discuss all of these things in length (perhaps even make sense of them) but I was too distracted by the side characters.
Let me explain.
Well, let me do it anyway.
Aside from the characters I mentioned above, no one in this film is particularly adept at combat. Hand-to-hand scenes, while terribly filmed, are at least decently choreographed. When one character was allowed to fight another character mano a mano, things chugged along with a competency I’ve come to expect from tossaway Martial Arts films. But when Helfi CH Kardit deigns to give one of his characters a gun…well…perhaps a bit of restraint would have been nice.
This gentleman fires his machine gun indiscriminately in a populated residential neighborhood for ten minutes. He doesn’t aim. He doesn’t consider the whereabouts of his desired targets. He doesn’t reload. He simply stands there and savors the moment. This must be standard Indonesian weapons training, because most characters follow this simple pattern of standing and shooting repeatedly.
Here are two more highly-trained weapons experts. The one on the right, I’m almost certain, is the same machine gun aficionado from the first scene. Characters don’t seem to actually hit anyone with their weapons, either. They simply enjoy the thrill of standing proud and firing an infinite amount of bullets at nothing at all.
Here, a character has chosen to ‘raise the stakes,’ in filmmaking terms, by incorporating a rocket launcher into the fracas. Don’t worry. He doesn’t hit anyone, either. Characters also bring their guns along for car chases, which have the tact and deft direction I’ve come to expect from a Helfi CH Kardit Joint.
His efforts, too, are fruitless. His untimely end comes when he is driven off the road by SARAH CARTER OF FINAL DESTINATION 2 and the entire SUV explodes in glorious budget-conscious post-production. By the end of the three gun battles I have illustrated above, entire strips of roadway are in ruins, and a house is up in flames in the middle of a crowded neighborhood. One would think that this sort of gang violence would cause everyday citizens of Indonesia to stand up, demand more of their politicians in terms of protection from the grittier side of their city. I found myself wondering where any sort of government intervention was. There were no police investigating, despite the high speed pursuit in broad daylight. Why had no Indonesian politician stepped up to decry the senseless violence?
Oh, that’s why. Bully for you, Indonesia.
The Bottom Line
Guardian is a terrible film. Its one possibly redeeming quality, the fight scenes, are damn near incomprehensible due to overuse of handheld shots and quick cuts, so ultimately I had no idea who was fighting, and ultimately, it didn’t matter. The plot is threadbare and the character development is non existent. My favorite character is a man who lives in an apartment below Fake Mother’s secret hideout. Daughter escapes this apartment twice by climbing down her own balcony and onto his. An entire gun battle occurs above him, and he is mostly bewildered and put off by the fact that this girl has interrupted his football game.
I am as confused as you are, football fan.
I was almost ready to tell you all that you can safely skip this movie. Helfi CH Kardit has already moved his next picture into Post-Production. It’s called Ten: The Secret Mission, and its about supermodels who are also secret agents, obviously. Perhaps this film was merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Lest you think that the film was completely heartless, however, I shall leave you all with its beautifully poignant final frame.
Literally all of them.
I rate this film One Mother out of All Mothers in the World.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK IN THE “REST” OF NETFLIX:
Carlito gets down and dirty with the Horror Gang known as the SKULLFUCKERS in the gritty crime drama 11 Blocks! Frank Miller fans are really going to love this one: