Newest Filipino action film Maria is now on Netflix. Much like most of its counterpart; it has no reasons to exist. Maybe catering to a bunch of action junkies is all it wants. But even though the action is pretty neat and the lead looks absolutely stunning even when she is kicking ass, the film doesn’t offer anything that is minutely worth recommending. The villains are drab, the side characters pretty non-existent and the story arc serviceable.
Like any other action thrillers that have an ex-assassin trying to have a normal life, Pedring Lopez’s Netflix venture ponders over Maria and her family. After opening to a really awkward and badly lite fight sequence, the film goes into family-mode. Only to disrupt a predictable storm of sadistic villains; each of whom has a personal agenda attached to their actions. There’s an entire subplot dedicated to ongoing elections in the country and one of the main goons being affected by it.
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However, much of the action is dedicated to Maria who had betrayed her BlackRose cartel gang to start over in her life. Fast-forward she has a family and a child and obviously gets mixed with her ex-lover and gang member Kaleb (Germaine De Leon). Things don’t go her way and she spurs into revenge mode where she rightfully nails every member of the gang to get her heated blood to suffice to another new life.
With the recent resurgence of female lead action spectacles – Thanks to Charlize Theron’s action turn in David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde and the most recent femme fatale resurgence in Veronica Ngo starrer Netflix produced Furie, things have started looking up for the genre’s diversity. However, with every next film, they are becoming more and blander plot-wise. In Maria, which is entirely problematic because it takes itself so fucking seriously that the fun that is to be had with the action also feels entirely mundane.
Netflix has been producing more and more films like Maria which needlessly spends its narrative arc on something that squanders most of it’s gained threshold on dialogues which alternatively move from English to Filipino within frames and make the language sound wooden. To add to its awkwardness the interpersonal dynamics within the gang of goons is so fuckin’ weird and underdeveloped that you don’t care for their rowdy behavior or sadistic stature.
The action is fine and the cinematography glides through hand-action sequences with preciseness, but when it comes to the other technical aspects like acting and music (which mostly consists of American hard-rock and metal) feels constantly manipulative to uplifts simpler sequences into an intense martial art. But it doesn’t. It only makes the film incredibly loud and unbearable. To add to its one-note characters and stupid narrative choices, the film leaves with a hopeful (Read: Hopeless) ending for a look at a sequel that continues this saga that doesn’t need one.