Marlon Villar - a longtime chauffeur to a corrupt politician Manuel - finds himself in an unimaginable circumstance when he is attacked while driving both his and his bosses daughter home from school. What is seemingly a kidnapping attempt goes from bad to worse when Manuel's daughter is shot and killed, leaving Marlon's daughter to be taken and held for ransom. Willing to do whatever it takes to save his daughter Marlon deceives the untrustworthy Manuel and the corrupt detectives into believing that Manual's daughter was also taken alive. Between ruthless kidnappers, corrupt cops, and politicians, Marlon is caught in a deadly web which leaves no man innocent by the end. Ron Morales' Graceland is a gripping, tense and tight thriller that does a great job at being both engaging and thought-provoking. For those who don't want to read between the lines the film is fast-paced and entertaining but for those willing, Graceland offers multiple commentaries on political corruption, economic disparity and the exploitation of woman. In a way Graceland is a searing portrait of the Philippines, showing the vast corruption and massive economic gap which exists and society. While these commentaries are certainly interesting it's the film's interest in moral ambiguity that really makes it stand out. With Graceland every single person in this narrative is fueled by selfish antics, some worse than others. Selfish may not be the right world but the film really captures these characters at their most primal state where survival and prosperity for themselves and their loved ones is their number one concern. We see the moral compromises that every character is willing to make in a ruthless and dynamic way that never holds back in illustrating the shades of gray that typically go hand in hand with morality. This is no good guy or bad guy Graceland is impressively photographed, using the visual medium to evoke emotion and elaborate on ideas. Ron Morales direction is very well thought-out and among the violence and drama he never forgets to stop and show the mental anguish the situation has on the various character's souls. Ron Morales' Graceland is a lean, tight and thought-provoking thriller that matches some of the better crime thriller's from Korea in its ability to not shy away from the murky waters of morality.
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