The Big 4 (2022)

Rating: B-

Dir: Timo Tjahjanto
Star: Abimana Aryasatya, Putri Marino, Lutesha, Marthino Lio

Tjahjanto gave one what was arguably the best action film of 2018, in The Night Comes for Us, so I was very excited to see what this was going to be like. I’ll confess to being a little disappointed. This still certainly has its moments: it lacks the relentless intensity of Night, which barely let up for its two-hour duration. This adds a further twenty minutes in length, but definitely takes its foot off the gas considerably more. While there’s no shortage of violence – and we’re talking short-range shotgun blast to the head violence – it’s played considerably more for comedic effect, closer to the early works of Peter Jackson. That’s a sharp change in tone from Night.

The “4” of the title are a vigilante group under the command of Petrus, a veteran who decides it’s time to quit as his daughter Dina (Marino) is becoming a police officer, and thus a potential clash with his extra-legal activities. He barely has a chance to enjoy retirement before he’s murdered in his home. Dina thinks she sees the killer, but it’s actually Topan (Aryasatya), her father’s best acolyte. The group disbands: three years later, Dina finds a clue which puts her on the trail of Topan again. Except, this also brings the real killer (Lio) out of the woodwork, intent on finishing off the rest of them, as well as Dina. It’s time for her and the quartet to strap back on their guns, knives – and an improvised explosive device called the Lucifer’s Fart 3000.

The last-named gives you an idea of the overall approach here. The movie sets its stall out early, opening with a scene where the Big 4 rescue orphans from an organ trafficking clinic, which creates a very, very high bar in terms of action. To be honest, it’s one the film then spends about an hour and a half not quite matching, offering mostly relatively small-scale set pieces. It’s clear that Tjahjanto’s talents are not quite as much in the dramatic realm. The characters offered up are decent enough, there just isn’t enough done with them, once their basic traits are established. It’s especially so given a 141-minute running time, which makes it longer than most MCU movies.

Just when my attention was definitely beginning to waver, Tjahjanto pulls back from the brink with a grandstand finale. The villain kidnaps the wimpiest member of the Big 4, leaving the other three plus Dina to come up with and execute a rescue plan. This is goddamn glorious, showcasing carnage in every form, from the large-scale results of the LF3000, through to depicting what happens when your bazooka has its exit orifice plugged unexpectedly. A slight demerit is awarded for an ending which leans too heavily into setting up The Big 4 2, even if the main threads here are all tided up adequately. Still, I can’t deny, I’d watch any sequel, though would hope Tjahjanto doesn’t decide to throw a further twenty minutes onto the running time.