‘KontrAdiksyon’ review: Blatant propaganda

Alexis Borlaza (Jake Cuenca) is a human rights activist who has been actively speaking out against Duterte and his drug war. 

After one press conference, he goes home to his loving wife and adorable daughter. His dreamy night turns into a nightmare when a gang of masked thugs break into their home to wreak havoc. The leader of the gang gives Alexis a gun, and puts him into a situation wherein he has to decide whether to kill the thug and save his wife from being raped, presumably in contravention of his ideals, or to not kill the thug and watch his wife be abused.

Impractical, hypocritical and conspirators of evil

In the hands of a fairer artist, the opening moral dilemma would’ve pushed for compelling discourse.

KontrAdiksyon however is more interested in putting holes on the current regime’s pundits, pitting human rights with manipulated storylines to paint the side he is against as impractical, hypocritical and worse, as conspirators to the commission of social evils. 

This is blatant propaganda.

The film uses every trick in the book, leeching humanity out of drug users, characterizing human rights advocates and other critics as either fools or villains. The film appeals to the emotions, conjuring storylines about the valor of government forces and making it seem that being critical of the government is equivalent to being unappreciative of the efforts of those tasked to protect the nation. 

What is truly alarming about KontrAdiksyon is that it doesn’t really target drug dealers and users. 

Its motive is to humiliate criticism, making it appear through its many manipulations and fabrications that being outspoken against the efforts of government to eradicate drugs through questionable means is wrong. It pits characters representing both ends of the spectrum against each other and overtly making the character supportive of the government vastly more sympathetic than the one that questions.

There is no middle ground here. There is just right and wrong and De Mesa insists that his position is right and everything that is against that position is embarrassingly wrong.

ARRESTED. Alexis finds himself beaten by the police.

ARRESTED. Alexis finds himself beaten by the police.

Trojan horses

Despite its obvious teetering towards dogmatic adoration of the current regime, KontrAdiksyon still flaunts its pretenses of unbiased perspectives and hopes for unity. Take for example the that impassioned speech delivered by the PDEA officer (Arnold Reyes) in the film’s end where he begs for compassion and unity from the human rights activists after his men have been attacked by drug addicts who have mysteriously turned into rabid zombie-like savages. 

These are all Trojan horses. 

Virtues like compassion, nationalism, and solidarity are twisted to fit only within the unbendable tenets of the current administration. They are used to make being critical of the government look like empty rabblerousing, vicious disloyalty, or worse, dangerous criminality.

The film emboldens the fervent followers of the administration, and in turn, widens the division as it ridicules critical thinking. It arms this regime’s supporters with half-truths and wicked fallacies garbed in sheep’s clothing. 

Two and a half hour slog

KontrAdiksyon is a two-and-a-half hour slog but it can rile and arouse with its sly indoctrination.

It is glossy and looks like good money has been spent to make it a little bit more visually appealing than the standard drug war flick. It’s just not entertaining. It’s not fun. There is nothing to laugh at here since most of its propositions are bleak and alarmist inventions meant to discourage speaking out and taking action. — Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.