TANDEM (King Palisoc, 2015)
"Tandem" could have been another generic tale about urban crime, but screenwriter Zig Marasigan, working from a story by Mikhail Red, and director King Palisoc inject the film with a solidly grounded conflict between two brothers- the elder an ex-convict with a clear-cut set of newfound morals, while the younger a thrill-seeker who wants to earn his brother's respect, that the story rises above the trappings of the genre.
Roman (Nico Antonio) and Rex (JM De Guzman) earn a living from robbing other people. Equipped with a motorcycle, guns and their sense of brotherhood, the two prowl the streets of Metro Manila looking for the next big score.
Roman has a baby on the way with his wife Cha (Rochelle Pangilinan), while Rex is madly in love with a bar girl named Nadine (Elora Españo). As we begin to see the brothers on a human level, suddenly they cease to exist as mere criminals. They are now survivors.
Yet the film does not glorify or justify the incidence of riding-in-tandems. Far from it in fact, "Tandem" makes a parallelism between street crime and white-collar crime, where the line is blurred on a daily basis. As in 2012's "Posas (Shackled)," cops again play a pivotal role in the perpetuity of urban crime.
The film works best in its moments of dilemma and conscience, when the brothers abort a robbery because of a child, or when they argue whether or not to pull the trigger, for example. Palisoc creates heightened tension, particularly during the second half of the film, where one quick turn beckons another.
One thing I could have done without though is the epilogue, which was a little anticlimactic. Nevertheless, "Tandem" is another cautionary tale worth seeing because of the sibling dynamics between Rex and Roman, played with grit and focus by De Guzman and Antonio.