Directed by Tearepa Kahi, Muru is a New Zealand action drama film that stars Cliff Curtis as its main character and details of the 2007 New Zealand Police Raids Ngāi Tūhoe community of Rūātoki.
Sergeant ‘Taffy’ Tawharau (Cliff Curtis) divides his time by doing his police duties, driving the local school bus, and caring for his elderly father. While driving the bus, Taffy notices local troublemaker Rusty (Poroaki Merritt-McDonald) vandalising a local bakery. Rather than arresting Rusty, Taffy convinces him to return to the bakery to clean up the mess that he made the previous night, however on that same morning the police start a nationwide raid against suspected terrorist and when the officers mistake Rusty‘s broom for a weapon they begin to chase him which results in the accidental death of a police officer which begins a manhunt for Rusty while Taffy attempts to prove his innocence.
The film is set over the course of a couple of days and once the film gets started, it never slows down. The story is always progressing along with very little slow or unessential scenes. The last twenty minutes of the film is one of the most intense endings to a film that I have seen in quite some time. The scenes of the raid and the officers chasing Rusty has so many ups and downs, it is like a roller-coaster, but it all goes so fast that you don’t have any time to relax as the stakes keep getting higher. It doesn’t make it any easier knowing that all of this actually happened as well.
The film touches on a sensitive subject and it doesn’t shy away from being realistic and showing how scary the raid was. This was achieved by showing the locals being forced out of their homes by the police officers as well as showing the pointless deaths that happened during that time as well.
Muru also does a great job of educating its audience that might not have known that this has happened. The film accomplishes this by providing context on why the raid is happening as well as little background on the town’s locals as well. I also thought the costuming department did an impressive job, as most of the police officers wear the police uniforms throughout the whole film and look very realistic, which I think helps enhance the legitimacy of the film. And the police officers that are doing the raid are all dressed in black which helps you to distinguish between the different police officers.
While there are strong acting performances from all of the cast, it is the performance of Cliff Curtis that really carries this film. I enjoyed his performance as Sergeant ‘Taffy’ Tawharau, his character wants to do what is right for his local community and will even risk his life when Rusty‘s life is in danger because he knows that Rusty wasn’t carrying a weapon. Plus, even though Rusty is a troubled youth, Taffy still believes that there is a good side to him and that he will become less of a troublemaker when he grows up. That is not to say that he is alone with providing a strong acting performance in Muru, the whole cast did an amazing job on this film.
Muru is a very real, raw, and powerful. It will not only keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat, but it will also enlighten you on a subject that you may not have known about.
Muru is in Australian cinemas now.