Admittedly, there is something that doesn’t feel quite right when you’re watching a movie about Indonesia’s Presidential Election titled 2014 on the year 2015. The timing just felt off, because it would have been far more impactful if it was released last year in the midst of the actual Presidential Election. But even though it was delayed, the promise of a political thriller and the big names (Ray Sahetapy, Donny Damara, Rio Dewanto, Atiqah Hasiholan – how can I resist?) was still enough to lure me to the cinema. And turns out, it wasn’t as lackluster as I thought it would be.
Indonesia’s Presidential Election is coming up, and the there are three candidates who fight nails and tooth for the hot seat: Bagas Notolegowo (Ray Sahetapy), Faisal Abdul Hamid (Rudi Salam), and Syamsul Triadi (Akri Patrio). But then Bagas was accused – or framed, to be exact – of a murder and everything went downhill from there.
Determined to proved that his father is innocent, the once apathetic Ricky Bagaskoro (Rizky Nazar) set out to recruit the famous ex-lawyer Khrisna Dorojatun (Donny Damara) to defend his father, and work with Khrisna’s daughter Laras (Maudy Ayunda) to unveil the mystery around his father’s charges.
Honestly, the key to a good thriller or horror movie is a sympathetic main character. I have to at least feel like s/he is worth rooting for so that I will pay keen attention and hope that they will make it out alive. When they aren’t interesting – or worse, flat out annoying – the movie will already lost half of it’s bargaining point, even if the story was superb. Unfortunately, the main character is 2014’s fatal flaw because Rizky Nazar is like the male version of Kristen Stewart in Twilight. No matter what his emotion is, he always have that angry-slash-annoyed look in his face. Forget sympathizing with him or with his situation, every time I look at his expression, I just feel like punching him in the face. Not only because his reckless ‘brave’ act, but more so because I can barely stand him looking that smug all the time. I seriously questioned the casting choice because are we that short of young actors? I would honestly rather have an older actor played the part even if it is less believable. It is such a blessing that Hanung managed to recruit more experienced actors to play other parts, because that is what get me through the movie. That, and the story.
Story-wise, 2014 is a gripping political thriller. The pace was quick and the story was presented in such interesting manner that it demands your attention. And I like that there were some references to our current situation so that it’s more grounded. Like “blusukan” as campaign strategy, the overly religious presidential candidate, the “I will eradicate poverty” statement, the negative perception on the police squad, and of course, on the matter of Indonesia as a corrupted country. 2014 was thrilling enough to keep me focused as I wait for the next move from both sides, even if it had the typical flaws of Indonesian movies: the third act was such a letdown. After all the quite solid build up, the third part suddenly become a mess and the ‘revelation’ felt like something that Rahabi Mandra and Ben Sihombing put on the script just for the sake of making the movie seems like a cool-mind-blowing-political-thriller-with-a-twist. Plus, the whole “it all rely on the shoulder of a high schooler” (who barely go to school, by the way. He was only there once throughout the movie despite being a third grader) premise is a bit questionable, mostly because Ricky is just not convincing enough.
Also, as a side effect of too much How To Get Away With Murder, the trial scenes were a bit lacking. I barely get to see how smart and impressive Khrisna is as a lawyer, which is such a shame because Donny Damara and Ray Sahetapy were the main reason as to why I even considering this movie as likeable. Sure, Rizky Nazar might be good looking for a certain demographic, but I’ve been ranting about how much of an eyesore he is and how he nearly sent this movie crashing down with his flimsy portrayal. And Maudy Ayunda was meh. Sue me, but the way she present Laras fell flat and I don’t find her relatable or even slightly intriguing. So 2014 is another case in which I found the main characters such a bore. Luckily, the supporting casts are all convincing – if not superb. After The Raid and Killers, I was surprised to see Ray Sahetapy play a protagonist. But he still nailed the complexity of Bagas Notolegowo and the few bursts of emotion shows the humane underneath those perfectly confidence-bordering-smug exterior. And Donny Damara was more than good as the idealist Khrisna, even if his character is an archetypal goody two shoes. But Atiqah Hasiholan stole my attention. She might have the same syndrome as Rizky Nazar because she looks worried and far too serious-bordering-disturbed most of the time, but she really kick ass as the female police officer. It was such a pleasant surprise to see her being so adept at martial arts and look effortless as she teach the bad guys a thing or two. Rio Dewanto doesn’t get a lot of chance to showcase his ability as an actor – I don’t recall hearing him speak – but Satria’s character was the typical bad guy who made his mark through his fists and looking like a menace. So to see him as this badass-leather-clad assassin was more than enough. Rudy Salam got me buying his act as the candidate who will do everything to win the election, and Akri Patrio’s rendition of an overly religious candidate was funny but still got me wincing because it’s a sour reminder of Indonesia’s religion politics. Deddy Sutomo as the current president was okay, so does Donna Harun as the nice and faithful wife.
So 2014 was flawed, of course, and it could have garner a lot more face value had it been released last year as scheduled. But Hanung’s ambitious project on political thriller does pay off because 2014 is a refreshing change. It was entertaining, the action was packed and gripping, and overall it is a cool project. Plus point is the gorgeous naming of the characters: Bagas Notolegowo and Khrisna Dorojatun were my favorite. Oh and last but not least, I really like Meymey :3
Director: Rahabi Mandra & Hanung Bramantyo. Writer: Rahabi Mandra & Ben Sihombing. Released on: 26 February 2015. Casts: Ray Sahetapy, Donny Damara, Rizky Nazar, Atiqah Hasiholan, Rio Dewanto.