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Crossroads: One Two Jaga doesn’t know where it’s going. With that title what would? The film flirts with interesting ideas to do with police corruption, immigration and xenophobia but barely acts on any of them. It’s a film that finds itself literally stuck at a crossroads in terms of theme, story and intent. It’s also just really, really bad.
New police detective Hussein (Zahiril Adzim) finds himself partnered up with corrupt cop Hassan (Rosdeen Suboh) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Together the pair seem to do nothing but harass those they suspect of being illegal immigrants. Meanwhile an Indonesian immigrant worker Sugiman (Ario Bayu) is trying to help his sister Sumiyati (Asmarah Abigail) get out of Malaysia despite her losing her passport. These two stories and several others collide in an unholy mess that is both a technical disappointment and a storytelling shambles.
Crossroads: One Two Jaga lists no less than five writers, always a bad sign. It tries to pair a sympathetic immigrant drama with an unsympathetic far-right cop drama. It would have been better had the writers stuck with the one idea rather than trying to stitch the two together. The most disappointing thing is that these ideas can work together provided there’s a shared tone and mood. But the tone is cynical and the mood is depressing. Director Nam Ron, in his sophomore effort, is left floundering with this shoddy story although as a co-writer he is as to blame for the story as he is for the film’s meandering flow.
Shot and lit as if it’s either been kept in a dark room or left out in the sun too long Crossroads: One Two Jaga never becomes visually interesting. Apart from a brief montage foreshadowing the future events of the film Crossroads: One Two Jaga is probably the best excuse you’d have for browsing Twitter while watching Netflix. A disinterested cast don’t help matters as a great deal of them particularly Bayu and Abigail seem to be content with phoning it in even in the supposedly dramatic ending.
Crossroads: One Two Jaga ends badly for pretty much everyone and yet I didn’t feel particularly sad or happy for anyone. The final and only action scene has such poor sound design and direction it makes Michael Bay look good. I felt bored throughout the whole 80 minutes which is the worst crime a film can commit although the short running time might be the film’s one positive. Crossroads: One Two Jaga isn’t like a car stuck at a crossroads it’s more like a car that’s been stripped for parts and then set on fire stuck at a crossroads.