Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura) has a hobby that has taken over his life. He likes to film women, without their permission, and upload the results onto the internet, and the reason it's without their permission is because when he turns his camera on, he's in the process of murdering them. He feels as if he is in a privileged position, above normal society, though this does mean he has nobody to relate to - until he finds out about Bayu (Oka Antara). This man is a journalist who has recently been humiliated in his attempts to expose a corrupt politician, indeed not even the accusation the politician, Mr Dharma (Ray Sahetapy) has been beating his wife can stick. Bayu tries to pursue this, but only gets beaten up for his trouble, leaving him close to breaking point, which is just where Nomura wants him...
Killers was one of a number of violent melodramas edging into horror territory that spread across Asian cinema come the twenty-first century. Naturally, it was a region of the world where violence and cinema went hand in hand for many of its genre pieces, but works such as this, directed by the self-styled Mo Brothers (actually the unrelated Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto), appeared to bring the bloodshed not so much as a titillating reason for being as had happened so often before, but an actual method of telling the story and bringing out its themes. Thus the question they were posing here was, is murder ever justified? Sure, there are those who murder entirely innocent people, but what if the victims had done something despicable?
The conclusion they drew was that no matter the justification found for ending someone's life prematurely, the fact was the action debased whoever was carrying it out, so we had the evil killer in Nomura who was essentially a serial murderer, and the "good" killer in Bayu who at first kills in self-defence, then after getting a taste for it sees a way of attaining justice in his battle against Dharma and his goons who happen to have the law on their side (the police do not emerge from this well). Yet by the end of it nothing Bayu has done has resulted in any beneficial effect, as his plans simply led to tragedy both for himself, his loved ones and those unlucky enough to be caught up in the two men's orbit once they begin communicating with one another over the internet.
This premise sort of tied in with the "internet is used for evil" thrillers that had emerged over the previous decade or two, though here the online world was less condemned (we can read a few of the cheerleading comments on Nomura's videos if we look closely enough) than accepted as a given, when it was the people feeding the appetite for the vilest material that were more culpable than those who consumed it. You could argue if there were no consumers, no audience, then there would be no impetus for these individuals to show off how awful they could be, though Bayu thinks he is doing good, but there are plenty of folks who behave dreadfully with no audience whatsoever, so the need to show off about their crimes was not necessarily the driving force behind them.
Initially the deck is stacked in Bayu's favour as far as the moral high ground goes: that first killing (a double killing, in fact), is purely in self-defence and but he gets a pistol out of the altercation which becomes both instrumental and emblematic of his desire to get even, first with Dharma and then the world. We see his family life with his estranged wife Dina (Luna Maya) and young daughter, bringing in the other theme of male role models and how they have grown corrupted in the modern world, most blatantly when Nomura gets to know a young florist, Hisae (Rin Takanashi), who he witnessed trying to kill her autistic brother in a staged traffic accident, or so he believes. He then leads the boy astray, but Hisae contains more humanity than he would ever know what to do with, as most of the women here do, which should shame him and indeed Bayu, only it's a man's world and Killers has its doubts over the benefits. This was brought to you by some of those behind The Raid movies, and demonstrated the violence levels that series did, but had absurd logic to its concerns. Music by Aria Prayogi.