When the only bad thing about your feature film debut is its marble-mouthed title, it’s a sign that your ambitious film is close to being sublime.
When you get past that weak title, AKP: Job 27 is a really good time at the movies. It treads trodden ground by being centred around a private hitman on a mission in unfamiliar territory (the territory being Toronto), but its Michael L. Suan’s vision of the story that brings it into a league of its own.
Suan takes a leap of faith by making AKP: Job 27 a modern day silent film. The closest the film gets to using dialogue are screams when our shadowy lead is on the clock and firing off his gun. As the writer/director, Suan gives himself the task of justifying why the film is void of dialogue – he does a good job with doing so.
Very rarely does it feel like the silence is unmotivated. Early group confrontations make us wonder why these people aren’t breaking the ice. Same goes for quick questionings when our no-named hitman is looking to be rightfully directed.
That said, Suan actually covers himself quite well. Music accompanies the feature ranging from instrumental tracks to classics to contemporary remixes. When our lead is asking questions, we see his mouth move but club music drowns him out. This shows us that Suan isn’t senselessly feeding his audience. He knows there will be skeptics out there, and he confidently wants them to relax.
Aside from the tastefully and artistically portrayed violence, the hitman is constantly haunted by a lost love that he was responsible for. He tries to fill in the personal gap, but is always reminded why those prior feelings are irreplaceable. He does start falling for a wayward prostitute, who strikes an uncanny resemblance to his departed beloved.
That’s Roxanne Prentice playing both the roles of the unspoken love and the prostitute. Prentice does a fantastic job at balancing both key parts, and has an array of expressions to flawlessly communicate to the audience. She’s a natural in the silent film genre.
Tyce Philip Phangsoa plays the hitman with preserved heartbreak while also maintaining focus on his acquitted tasks. It’s a performance that would be daunting to any actor. They have to convey a softer side while keeping their potent intimidation at the forefront. Phangsoa does so, masterfully.
Michael L. Suan’s flick starts off in Japan and fluently transitions to the Canadian environment. He doesn’t outdo himself with trying to make iconic Toronto landmarks evident, but is wanting to show that this crime underworld can be easily hidden and can exist anywhere. Movie goers will often forget that AKP: Job 27 takes place primarily in Toronto – that’s a good thing.
The film briefly gets carried away with itself. For example, the film’s look is stunning, but every so often the inky mood will make the visuals too dim. And, Suan (who is also the editor, along with Biko Franklin) could’ve trimmed some sequences. There’s ten minutes scattered in AKP: Job 27 that could’ve been easily shaven. Luckily, these instances always find a way to move onto stronger material.
I hope AKP: Job 27 isn’t the only project we’ll get to see from this filmmaking newcomer. Suan shows that he’s perfectly capable of representing hard-edged fortitude and tantalizing sexiness without overvaluing his talents. To make a silent film like AKP: Job 27 takes courage and stylistic spunk. Suan has succeeded with these attributes in – what’s sure to be – one of the greatest independent films you’ll see this year.