The Big 4 movie review & film summary (2022) – Roger Ebert

Now streaming on:
Indonesian director Timo Tjahjanto makes movies that embrace the absurd potential of filmmaking. I remember being a kid and hearing someone say that the best action movies show you something you’ve never seen before and you’re not sure is even possible. Tjahjanto believes in a chaotic, comedic approach to action filmmaking, which reached its career peak for him in the riveting “The Night Comes for Us,” a big enough hit for Netflix that they asked the madman to make another action extravaganza and he delivered “The Big 4,” a shoot-’em-up with its director’s unmistakable flair for the ridiculous. Critics have often compared well-choreographed action in films like “The Killer” or “John Wick” to ballet, films where every movement feels precisely considered for the best impact. Tjahjanto’s films have a more reckless energy to them. Even though they’re just as carefully considered, they maintain something closer to slapstick. It’s like The Three Stooges with bazookas. “The Big 4” is way too long and talky, but you feel its impact when it explodes.
“The Big 4” opens with one of its best scenes as Tjahjanto reminds us of his horror background by dropping viewers into an orphanage used to harvest organs for rich people. It turns out that the heroes of this tale are already undercover in this grotesque establishment, and they destroy all of its employees in an increasingly grotesque fashion. A sniper’s bullet doesn’t just drop an enemy in a Tjahjanto film—it blows half his head off.
During the sequence, we meet the quartet of vigilante assassins that give the film its title: leader Topan (Abimana Aryasatya), the intense Alpha (Lutesha), marksman Jenggo (Arie Kriting), and the youngest Pelor (Kristo Immanuel). These angels have a Charlie in Petrus (Budi Ros), who decides it’s time to retire from the team as his daughter Dina (the excellent Putri Marino) is retiring from the police academy. It’s hard to lead a group of people who operate outside the law when your offspring is now the law. But Petrus can’t enjoy his retirement and is murdered in what is basically the film’s prologue, sending his four assassins to a remote island. Three years later, Dina tracks them down, and so does the killer of her father (Martino Lio), who now has a whole team to enact his vengeful will.
“The Big 4” is at its best when it’s at its most ludicrous, whether it’s the striking opening showdown or a wonderful later scene in which Topan has to ward off a pair of villains behind a door without revealing the violence to Dina. Lio leans into his villain role with fantastic facial hair, a silly number of knives sheathed on his body, and a fashion sense that seems built around his snarl. Most people who watch “The Big 4” will be drawn to its cartoonish action, but the cast is solid from top to bottom, especially Lio, Marino, and Aryasatya.
I’ll admit to caring less and less about the plot of “The Big 4,” which makes its 141-minute runtime a bit much. But all is forgiven when it finally takes off, which it does with enough rhythm to get you from the intense prologue to the insane final half-hour, during which Tjahjanto pulls out all the stops. He’s reportedly hoping that this will be the start of a franchise. It’s hard to imagine how the sequel could go bigger, but I bet he’ll find a way.
On Netflix now.
Brian Tallerico is the Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

141 minutes
Abimana Aryasatya as Topan
Putri Marino as Dina
Lutesha as Alpha
Arie Kriting as Jenggo
Kristo Immanuel as Pelor
Marthino Lio
Michelle Tahalea
Michael Kho
Donny Damara
Budi Ros
Gilbert Pattiruhu
M. Yusuf Ozkan
Willem Bevers
Andri Mashadi
Roger's Greatest Movies
All Reviews
Cast and crew
Sign Up
Amazon Prime
Science Fiction
Chaz's Journal
Great Movies
Far Flungers
Video Games
Black Writers Week
Roger Ebert
Festivals & Awards
About the site
Contact us
Advertise with Us
In Memoriam 1942-2013
Ebert Digital LLC
© Copyright 2022
Privacy policy
Terms of use


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *