Geran : ‘NYAFF’ Review – Gritty action fails to disguise a predictable family drama
You would be forgiven for thinking you are watching an Indian commercial potboiler in the first 5 minutes. Out of the blue, one of the loan sharks tries to attack the woman in the house, and she fights right back, with well-choreographed bone-crunching moves of the Malaysian martial arts Silat, and you realize why ‘Geran‘ is getting so much buzz in the festival circuits.
Areel Abu Bakar knows the action beats are the strongest elements of the movie – the last 40 mins of Geran is an almost non-stop action set-piece strung together. The choreography of these set pieces and the different forms of the overall craft is well done. The editing during these scenes ranges from decent to good. The movie however falters in its selection of the protagonist and overall plotting and story structure.
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For most conventional movies of the action genre, the plot is just a mere device that delivers the action set pieces. Thus the story of the movie is fairly well-trodden. Mat Arip, the younger brother of the family has fallen in with the wrong crowd and his older brother has to fight off the goons sent by a gangster while also ensuring his brother comes home safe and sound. The uniqueness of this film, at least in theory is the fact that all the members of the family are proficient in Silat. The story keeps the siblings separated for the majority of the movie, so it is disappointing that we don’t get a team-up between the three siblings.
It is also disappointing that the movie chooses to focus on the younger brother’s plight and his subplot involving gambling and street racing – very much inspired by the original Fast and the Furious minus the insanity the later sequels of the Fast franchise would bring. Fatimah, the sister is the most interesting of the bunch. She is spunky, extremely capable, very proficient. Feiyna Tajudin, on the other hand, is extremely convincing in pulling off the martial arts moves.
In contrast to that, both the characters of the two brothers is archetypal and consequently not quite interesting. It is great to see the elder brother single-handedly fight through scores of goons to save his younger sibling but it is hard to buy the relationship between the two of them as we don’t see any interactions prior to that. Couple that up with the screenplay that puts too much focus on a racing subplot that feels completely extraneous and unnecessary and ‘Geran‘ is a movie where less would have preferably come off as more.
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At a runtime of 104 minutes, ‘Geran‘ feels long and the overloading of action set-pieces ensures that the journey to get there feels boring and predictable. If you are an action movie aficionado, there are far better offerings in the genre which works better. If you are however interested only in the action set-pieces wait for the clips of the movie to appear on the internet. At the very least Areel Abu Bakar sets a precedent for an action director to watch out for. Geran also showcases some impressive cinematography in-between moments. It’s a shame that the screenplay and the story are so bland and conventional.