Monday, March 25, 2019

It's All About Your Aim

Like every business, Netflix is far from perfect. But for all its rate hikes and questionable politics when it comes to certain programming decisions, the service continues to serve as an undeniably powerful source of spreading cinema to an incredibly wide range of users. One of Netflix’s prime benefits in recent months has been its new import of a whole lot of international genre films.

Sure, some of these are rather politically terrible scared-straight-style abortion horrors (ah, The Unborn Child) but these are films that are otherwise easy to miss. Netflix’s algorithms know me well enough by now to constantly throw blood-covered mask poster art in front of my recommends. Hence, such quick views are how we come to randomly watch a movie like Indonesia’s Target.

Quick Plot: A group of performers (including action movie stars, a YouTuber, magician, and comedian) are gathered together for a mysterious film shoot that quickly devolves into a Saw-meets-And-Then-There-Were-None game, or what I can only assume is what every Escape Room turns into with enough paranoia. Some masked overseer has decided to create a different kind of film filled with real stakes, and our heroes must navigate personal tensions, physical feats, and kooky riddles to survive.

Written and directed by actor Raditya Dika, Target is an oddball genre film that thankfully establishes its comedic tendencies fairly immediately. Even though our cast is presumably made up of future and former action stars (all playing characters with the real actors’ names), they’re all goofballs in one sense or another. It’s endearing once you buy in. 

Unfortunately, and this could certainly be a case of comedy not always translating easily over several oceans, much of Target also just feels somewhat juvenile. An overweight’s character primary tic is that he likes to eat. A gay man’s effeminacy is his defining characteristic. Dika is our default lead, but he’s also the least dynamic of the bunch, which throws off the one major relationship that helps to solidify the story. The final twist is a surprise, but since the film never really knows whether anything should be taken too seriously, it’s ultimately underwhelming.

Target isn’t terrible, but as most genre fans know, few sub-categories of the genre are more uncomfortable to sit through than an inconsistent horror comedy. There’s a lot of charm to Target, and its diverse nature certainly makes it a more interesting watch  than a lot of the other streaming choices. 

High Points
I’m probably a broken record on this point, but when you cast an ensemble film with actors of all genders, ages, and statures, your story will instantly be more engaging 

Low Points
Look, I’m all for an oversized comedic actor having fun with his stature, but it’s 2019: can’t we be done with the token “fat guy eats a lot of food” scenes that are there for the simplest of jokes that, you know, fat guys eat a lot of food?

Lessons Learned
Standup comedians are not celebrities

Always take English lessons, especially if the school is so close to your house

One can never be too cautious when plotting a landing

Target is streaming on Netflix, and at just under 90 minutes, it’s a breezy enough watch for a lazy day. I struggled to stay with its goofy spirit, but if nothing else, there’s something worthwhile about watching a genre film from a country we don’t often see easily


  1. Indonesian movies are an absolutely appalling cinematic joke but they`re still 1000 times better than anything the British film industry has ever produced.

  2. They`ve got to retain their trophy on July 7th otherwise they`ll be rioting in the streets.