My colleague Chico Viejo knows very well the interest that a server has in the films directed by Johnnie To, a director whom most of humanity met with ‘Election’, that unique thriller about triads. From there I continued to see some more films by this director, and I have to say that all the ones I’ve seen so far seem like top-notch entertainment, although none of them are exciting to me. So, in the search for that movie by Mr. To that would fill me up, I ran into this movie, with which Chico Viejo drools.
Acclaimed as one of the best films by the Hong Kong filmmaker, I set out to see it with the greatest of illusions, and also wanting to see at that precise moment an oriental action thriller, which in more than one aspect far exceeds the American ones. However, I have to confess that once seen, I don’t even come close to sharing the passion that many admirers of the film profess. Because to date, I think it’s the worst Johnnie To film I’ve ever seen.
‘The Mission’, the boring elegance of Johnnie To
The argument of ‘The Mission’ It takes us to see how a group of elite professional gunmen get together after being apart for a while, to protect an important mobster that they have tried to kill, and who is convinced that they will try to kill him again. Our Wild and Tranquil Group will have, in addition to protecting him, to discover who is trying to kill his boss.
Of course the best thing about the film is the elegance with which johnnie to shoots his movie, visually it is splendid offering us a lot of incredible shots. But I think the movie stops there. The story is not interesting at any time, coming to care very little who the mysterious culprit may be, and the truth is that in the case of a film that lasts 83 minutes, it is something that is still disconcerting, because there is practically no time to get bored. And yet that happens. Like the fact that there is a moment in which the plot is incomprehensible, something that is already confusing from the beginning, with that beginning totally separated from what the film is.
The action scenes, which are often one of To’s strong points, are impeccably shot, but some of them lack soul. An example is the award-winning sequence that takes place in a shopping center. The shots are all amazing, but the scene lacks suspense, emotion. Something that the rest of the film lacks, which also moves in the fields of drama or comedy, but with equally cold results.
Another aspect that seems positive to me is, without a doubt, the acting work, demonstrating once again that Eastern actors are usually better than Americans in a film of these characteristics. With just mentioning Anthony Wong and Francis Ng, plus a brief appearance by the sensational Simon Yam, it’s here. The first two offer a unique recital with two characters who are really the only interesting ones in the story. And the second comes out so little that there is barely time to enjoy his always excellent presence.
Even so, a very weak film, enormously disappointing in the filmography of a director who has often shown that he knows what he is doing, although on this occasion it seems to me that he forgot his particular strength and intensity at home.