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film review

On the Job: Filipino crime thriller inspired by a real-life scandal in which prison inmates are temporarily released from prison to work as contract killers on behalf of politicians and high ranking military officials.

Erik Matti's intense Manila-set gangster melodrama opens with the shooting death of a man on the midday streets.

The middle-aged shooter, Tatang (Joel Torre), is the mentor to a young thug, Daniel (Gerald Anderson). Both men turn out to be prison inmates, illicitly sprung each time a hit is required by powerful interests, who give the payments to their families.

Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation detective Sgt. Acosta (Joey Marquez) tries to solve the crime, while attempting to guide rookie cop, Francis (Piolo Pascual). Francis's marriage into a prominent political family should ensure his future if he can only learn to compromise.

Set in condos, slums, government offices and a teeming squalid prison, On the Job feels marinated in hardscrabble reality. Action scenes throughout are unnervingly frenetic, with the tension amplified by the sheer density of the crowds.