Action fans may know Indonesian cinema mainly from the 2011 film, which is about to be remade. Raid or perhaps Ratu Ilma Hitam (queen of black magic). The latter is a 2019 horror film that has garnered attention many Western critics. But the industry in Southeast Asia’s largest country is much more than horror and muscle-and-bullet thrillers.
The official synopsis for this episode of Netflix reads:
Ever since Ben decided to leave Filosofi Kopi, he has lived in his hometown and actively defended groups of farmers whose lands were taken over by the Company.
These years Ben and Jody offers a detailed look at the action film that tells the story of a village whose existence is threatened by the activities of a group of illegal loggers. Here’s what to expect.
The most famous baristas in Indonesia
If the lack of exposure and the transition immediately to the action at the beginning Ben and Jody reminds you of a sequel because that’s exactly what the movie is. Indonesian audiences will be very familiar with Ben and Jody as they last saw them on the big screen in the hit 2015 film. Philosophy Kopi (Philosophy of coffee), as well as its sequel in 2017. The entire franchise is based on characters created by singer-songwriter and writer Devi Lestari.
Gap in tone between Ben and Jody and its predecessors are profound. Philosophy Kopi was an emotional drama about the struggle of two buddies to start their own business, a coffee shop, in the face of huge debts inherited from the previous owner, skepticism from friends and family, and all sorts of trouble. After the trials and tribulations of the couple, Philosophy Kopi turns into a feel-good movie as Ben puts all his efforts—learning both from books and coffee cultivation—in his quest to become a top-notch barista.
Philosophy Mine 2 (2017) covers the same subject, recounting the adventures of Ben and Jodie as they travel across Indonesia, handing out Ben’s “perfect coffee” and encountering many challenges along the way. A well-received YouTube web series followed, and the first film filming location in Jakarta is now a tourist center.
“Ben and Jody” – a lingering thriller
So far, so good. But Ben and Jody different, moving into action territory with surprisingly little fuss. Negotiations between the logging company and the residents of Ben’s home village go nowhere when two trucks full of thugs crash into a barricade built by the villagers across the local road and start clubbing everyone they see, including Ben. Shortly thereafter, Ben is attacked by masked men while trying to find transportation to a medical facility and is stuffed into the back of a truck intended for a remote lumberjack hideout. Soon his absence is noticed in the coffee shop, and Jody goes to look for him.
Jody plays Rio Devanto and Ben plays Chicco Jericho. Both actors were honored with the Citra Awards, the Indonesian equivalent of the Oscars. After success Philosophy Kopi, the pair helped create a real-life version of the coffee shop seen in the film. Here their skills are put to good use: Devanto takes on the role of an ordinary man turned fearless adventurer who will stop at nothing to find his friend. Jericho effectively plays the protector of the villagers who wears his heart on his sleeve and gets captured because of it.
But the film is directed by its main antagonist, played by Yayan Rukhyan. The actor was introduced to English-speaking audiences through a brief appearance alongside Harrison Ford as Tasu the Leech aboard the Millennium Falcon in the film The Millennium Falcon. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and starring in the movie Moritz Mohr. The boy is killing the world which is currently in production. He’s a really scary villain like Aa Tubir who gladly drops his weight once Ben and Jody are in his arms and doesn’t think anything about executing anyone who tries to escape his jungle hideout.
Ben and Jody’s jump in genre works
At first glance, it’s all about the premise Ben and Jody seems wrong. Think of any pair of buddies in the drama of the last decade, imagine they are in great danger from gun-wielding bad guys, and throw in a couple of escape attempts and the gap is immediately apparent. Ben and Jody deceives expectations, but does so in a believable way, aided by consistently high production values, solid supporting cast, and directorial values that emphasize movement, rather than the uninterrupted, fast-paced montage that so often afflicts modern action films.
If not for the noticeable slowdown in the third act of the film, there would be nothing to criticize. However, Ben and Jodie’s third cinematic outing is worth a look. This might just be the best Indonesian film of the year.