Inspired by actual events in New Zealand in 2007, Muru follows Taffy Tawharau (Cliff Curtis), a local Police Sergeant who spends his days helping others. While being a Sergeant, he looks after his unwell father and assists with driving a local bus that takes kids to school. One day, Taffy makes several discoveries while driving the local bus. These discoveries raise various questions, and he becomes suspicious of what could be brewing within his community.
We also learn that the Government is beginning to assemble armed men and prepare for a raid into Taffy’s community. When Taffy discovers that the Government are reacting to rumours caught on secret recordings taken by undercover officers, he works to shed light on the dark rumours. He discovers that the government has been watching and spying around the community. Taffy shuts down their findings, claiming the recordings are a simple misunderstanding and recordings of ‘bush talks’. Now, the government requests Taffy’s help to seek out the truth. For Taffy, seeking the facts will be challenging as he’ll be forced to choose between his people and the task asked of him.
Muru is best described as a drama film. To clarify, while the film is based on actual events, it is focused on the details and reasoning as to what led to the event rather than the event itself. The views and accuracy of the information contained in this production are not endorsed or supported by the New Zealand Police. Muru is not a re-creation of past police raids against the people- it’s a response.
Cliff Curtis brings a solid performance to the screen as Taffy. His character is highly likeable, with compassionate and charming moments, especially when we see he has a big heart for everyone around him, consistently putting others first. Muru is visually stunning and striking, and the dramatic story is displayed wonderfully. Moments of tension are depicted well, and emotions from the various characters are emphasised powerfully by the finale. It’s impossible not to feel throughout this film for those affected. While the film isn’t a full-on action movie, there are extremely impressive moments, such as the use of helicopters and surprising car crash sequences.
While performances, themes and visuals are powerful, I can’t deny that I found the first act slow and requiring patience from the viewer. During this act, many characters are introduced, as are situations that naturally lead to the heartbreaking raid. Some aspects, at first, may not seem to be a big deal or carry any real payoff; however, if viewers can stick around, the film builds towards a heartbreaking climax that all begins from one single spark.
Overall, this is quite a heartbreaking and powerful film. It reminds the world that it only takes a tiny spark for terror to occur at any moment. Visually, this film successfully captures a dramatic and powerful story that feels real. For the most part, performances are also great, with actor Cliff Curtis bringing a highly likeable character to the screen who is both strong-willed and compassionate towards others. While Muru is relatively slow to begin with, the various situations and characters in the first act need to be introduced. Thankfully, there is an intense and dramatic climax here if viewers can stick with it, and many moments are unexpected and touching.