For every cinephile and action movie fantatic, Mario Kassar’s name rings tried and true. One of the very hit Hollywood producers behind the megastardom of actors like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme to name a few, Kassar’s latest stint takes movie fans to Indonesia with Foxtrot Six, an explosive men-on-a-mission action sci-fi with an ambitious formula that taps ardently into the local talent base.
Randy Korompis writes and directs a story that begins with a montage drawn up to illustrate a world on the brink of its own collapse due to natural resources. Indonesia is now ground zero as the world’s food supply, having also turned into a dystopian police state whose last presidential ouster was eventually succeeded by a shady governing body known as the “Piranas” political party.
Enter Angga (Oka Antara), an elite soldier-turned-Congressman years away from the young man he was, once engaged to ambitious journalist Sari (Julie Estelle). His political career is finally gaining traction in lieu of a meeting he’s hustled at the Piranas complex with its four rich plutocratic leaders. The item in question? Smearing the seemingly atruistic uprising known as “The Reform”, and gaining the peoples’ trust once again.
He gets the greenlight to lead his own team, however reluctantly forced to coordinate his efforts with Wisnu (Edward Akbar), a ruthless commando who leads the Piranas’ decked-out military unit. The two are ambushed that evening when a drone appears out of nowhere, and Angga is soon cornered and taken captive by armed men aligned with the Reform.
What follows is a stark, chilling series of bittersweet reunions, family melodrama and damning revelations for Angga who left confronting his past, and faced with a government conspiracy that wreaks of bloodshed. Joined by Reform commando Spec (Chicco Jerikho), Angga enlists former unit members Oggi (Verdi Solaiman), Bara (Rio Dewanto), Ethan (Mike Lewis), and Tino (Arifin Putra), to infiltrate the Piranas-led government in a do-or-die mission to prevent what may potentially become a genocide.
Shot entirely in English, Korompis directs from his own script. Oftentimes it’s not as polished as it could be for certain key moments, though it helps to simply follow the story and enjoy it for what it is, along with its messaging. Various exchanges are interesting and compelling to watch, with only a few seldom funny moments, but none too blindsiding for the film’s brooding tone, and just some select VFX shots are a little more rough than others.
English-friendly audiences get a roster of worthwhile performances from a cast unfamilar to Westerners, which makes a film like Foxtrot Six an outstanding rarity for Asian film fans. Its cast is already a sell for most of its audience with the likes of Antara, Estelle and Putra, six years after co-starring in Gareth Evans’s The Raid 2 in several of the most iconic character portrayals ever handed to a viewing audience.
Solaiman’s Oggi is the first of Angga’s former team to be courted before Dewanto’s Bara is introduced, with a fight scene that easily harkens back to the memorably muddy action sequence in The Raid 2. Putra’s character, Tino, is just as reluctant as Oggi was, only his apprehension goes beyond mere confidence. Lewis’s role, Ethan, a YouTuber highly skilled in tech and computers, which is more than can be said for his online…uh… “skillset”?
Jerikho’s character, Spec, is a man of few words and easily stands out as one of the more cool characters of the film. Co-starring actor Akbar’s Wisnu gives viewers a worthwhile baddie who preaches a fatalistic, “might-makes-right” view of the world, alongside Willem Bevers’s role as President Barona, one of the film’s foremost political antagonists.
In addition to the armored exoskeleton design teased in early teaser art for the film, action fans also see the return of The Raid and Message Man co-star Godfred Orindeod who plays a Pirana government assassin donning a specialized cloak that makes him a force to be reckoned with. Uwais Stunt Team, whose Very Tri Yulisman serves as fight choreographer, puts much of the film’s costume and other set pieces to ample use, on top of featuring signature action design that promises a good deal of its continued approach to brutality and gore.
Billed as Mario Kassar’s Foxtrot Six on screen, it feels like a high mark for a producer’s investment in a region that has solidly come out of its shell in the past decade. It’s got its frills and isn’t for everyone, sure, but it packs enough heavy artillery and punches to the face to garner the attention of action fans following the gospel out of Indonesia, host to a cast worth its ceremony, and with Korompis etching his place in history, delivering a hearty, hard-hitting sci-fi epic that speaks to today’s sci-fi action niche.