Capsule Review: The Big 4 (2022)

The Big 4 marks horror specialist Timo Tjahjanto’s return to the action genre since The Night Comes for Us four years ago. And this time, he tries something different as well — blending action with comedy elements. It even runs an epic length at 2 hours and 21 minutes, which probably means it’s going to be a long-winded action comedy that overstays its welcome even before it reaches the end.

Well, this would happen if it falls into the hands of a lesser director but not so for Timo Tjahjanto. The Big 4 is wildly entertaining and pacey enough to keep me occupied throughout the movie. The first 10 minutes alone sets the exuberant tone right from the get-go — an orgy of blood-splattering carnage filled with gunshots and hand-to-hand combats set in an orphanage, where we first met the titular assassins saving the children from an organ trafficking group.

The assassins in question include Topan (Abimana Aryasatya), Alpha (Lutesha), Jenggo (Arie Kriting) and Pelor (Kristo Immanuel). They operate under the leadership of Petrus a.k.a. Pop (Budi Ros), their father figure who raised them like his own children. One day, a mysterious helmet-wearing killer murdered their father and Petrus’ recently graduated police-officer daughter, Dina (Putri Marino) is determined to investigate her father’s death. But it would only take her three years before she finally discovers an important clue, which leads her to Bersi Island. From there, she eventually finds out about the assassins who have been retired ever since, only to be forced back into the game after they become the enemies’ primary targets.

A scene from Netflix's "The Big 4" (2022)

Tjahjanto, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Johanna Wattimena is pretty much a standard-issue story about retired assassins, revenge and yes, even some daddy issues. And yet, the aforementioned pacing proves to be a huge lifesaver that compensates for the otherwise familiar plot. The comedy mostly hits the mark, thanks to the hilarious banters between the characters and the elaborate “frog poisoning” scene. It also helps the cast is fun to watch, particularly the way Tjahjanto gives each assassin a distinct personality and skill. For instance, Jenggo is a top marksman who loves to chant, treats his sniper rifle like his girlfriend and even gives it a nickname called Siska. Among others include the short-tempered and physically agile Alpha and Topan, the big brother of the assassin group, who is an expert in martial arts and weaponry. At one point, he’s given a brief Jackie Chan-like slapstick-style fighting moment.

Then, there’s the action. Tjahjanto goes all out with an onslaught of gleefully over-the-top action sequences. It’s a free flow of gushing blood and exploding limbs with all the graphic violence and in-your-face gore. We get everything from heads getting blown off to repeated gunshots in the chin and a bazooka-inflicted death. His often mobile and fluid camerawork continues to showcase Tjahjanto’s technical prowess in giving us pulsating and visceral action set pieces. The final 30-minute showdown is worth mentioning as well, complete with a seemingly unbroken single-take moment and an elaborate fight between Topan and the knives-wielding enemy leader (Martino Lio’s Antonio).

The Big 4 is currently streaming on Netflix.