Expressway. 2016. Philippines. Directed by Ato Bautista. With Alvin Anson, Aljur Abrenica. In Filipino; English subtitles. 93 min.
Silent night is no holy night as Ben (Alvin Anson), a quiet, reserved middle-aged hitman, sits in the dark, lit only by blinking lights from a Christmas tree, awaiting his next target. Fed up with this unredeemable life, Ben promises his boss one final assignment. He is paired with the most unlikely partner, the young, reckless, overly chatty, Morris (Aljur Abrenica), who seems more like a threat than an accomplice during a road trip that proves to be anything but a peaceful exit. While this engaging thriller might bring to mind Erik Matti’s widely lauded On the Job (2013), also about two hitmen (and featured in this series), it shares a closer kinship with the highly stylized, morally conflicted Hong Kong gangster films of the 1980s and '90s. The young, prolific director Ato Bautista is proving to be an electrifying addition to genre filmmaking.