With “Kaleidoscope” trending on Netflix, it is vital to mention that “Mencuri Raden Saleh,” for a heist plot, does a better job than the eight-episode show. The crucial aspect that is addressed here is the past—the pasts of the main characters and even the antagonist. The film is entertaining and, though a little lengthy and slowing down a bit in the middle, makes up for it in its climax. Writers Sasongko and Husein M. Atmodjo and director Angga Dwimas Sasongko do a wonderful job of strategically putting together the different plot points and delivering them without making the story seem confusing. Let us talk some more about the film and analyze it to understand it better.
‘Mencuri Raden Saleh’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
Ex-president Permadi hires teenager Piko, an art forger, and his friend Ucup, a hacker, to forge a painting, The Arrest of Prince Diponegoro by Raden Saleh, which is at the Presidential Palace. Unfortunately, during the exchange, which was for 2 billion (Indonesian Rupiah), he tells Piko to swap the painting with the original that will be taken to the National Museum in 3 weeks for a Presidential Palace Collection exhibition. He offers Piko 17 billion IDR. Piko, accompanied by his friend Ucup and his girlfriend Sarah, declines the offer, saying that they aren’t thieves. But he has no option but to accept the job as Permadi threatens to torture his father, who is already serving time in prison.
Piko, Ucup, Sarah Goraf (the mechanic), his brother Tuktuk (the getaway driver), and Ucup’s wealthy friend Fella chalk out an elaborate plan to swap the painting during the time of its delivery to the museum. They also execute it but fail to escape with the original painting. Both the real and the fake paintings are seized by the police, led by officers Sita and Arman. Tuktuk, too, is taken into custody. Permadi sends his dealer Dini as a fake curator to help the two officers decide which one is real and which one is fake. Naturally, Dini sends the fake one to the presidential palace and takes the real one with her. In this way, Permadi not only gets the original painting for himself but also saves his 17 billion. The kids, Piko, Ucup, Sarah, Goraf, and Fella, are meanwhile at a loss as to what they should do next, potential fugitives as they are.
Piko decides to retaliate and chalks out a second plan to rob Permadi of his Raden Saleh painting during an upcoming event at his place. Fella uses her mother’s influence and money to buy the event management company that will manage the event. Piko and Ucup will infiltrate as waiters and steal the painting. Goraf and Tuktuk, who were released from custody after the police failed to acquire any proof against him, will become members of the management team and create a distraction. Sarah will be responsible for distracting Permadi’s son Rama, keeping him busy with her and not anywhere else, which should be easy as the guy is a playboy. Fella will oversee the operation and make sure everything is going according to plan. Will they be able to “Steal Raden Saleh”?
The Past And The Present
All the main characters have a past that makes them more human. We know why they are doing what they are doing. Furthermore, making all the characters teenagers adds another layer to their characterization. Each of them is a pro in his or her own way, and all of them coming together to pull off a heist, no matter how ridiculous it may sound, takes things to a whole new level. What’s more, the film actually makes the plot seem feasible. The creators took care to make the kids experts in activities that wouldn’t be outlandish for kids to be competent at today, like painting, hacking, karate, automobiles, and cards. This added to the film’s effectiveness even more.
Piko’s mother died when he was younger, and a few years later, his father, Budiman, went to prison after being framed by his friends. Piko needs 2 billion IDR so that he can appeal to the Supreme Court regarding his father’s case. Ucup is already wanted by the police, and we don’t see his family. They are dead too, it seems, and as he tells Piko at the end of the film, Piko, Sarah, and the others are all the family he and Piko need. Piko and Ucup make their living by forging paintings and selling them to those who pay for them. Sarah needs money to find a new home for herself and her grandmother within a year. Her parents are probably dead as well. Goraf and Tuktuk are paternal cousins of Piko. They work at their father’s garage and dream of owning one someday. Fella misses the warmth of her mother, who runs a big company and is thus unavailable most of the time. Fella thus engages in car race betting and poker, among other things. When she finally finds people her age, she is able to open up and go all in to help them. Each of them is excellent at what they do, and they all pull their talents together for the heist, which, if we consider the film from a child’s perspective, is a great show of friendship and teamwork. It really seems like Fast and Furious First Class.
The Catch And The Climax
It was Piko’s father, Budiman, who suggested to Permadi that they swap the Raden Saleh paintings in exchange for his release. But when Permadi reveals that he can only have the case reopened by Budiman’s lawyer, Poltak, and not persuade the Supreme Court judge as he had promised earlier, Budiman threatens to speak up about the painting. However, Permadi reminds him that his son, Piko, is involved in the heist, so if he speaks up, Piko will certainly end up in prison. Saying this, Permadi sends Budiman back to prison. Later on, with help from Poltak, Budiman manages to escape prison and has 48 hours to disappear. He then makes up his mind to visit Permadi’s event is disguise. Why? We can’t tell for sure. He probably had the plan to steal the painting as well since it would give him leverage over Permadi and provide him with a means of escape.
A lot of stuff happens in the climax that adds to the film’s heist genre aesthetic. The night of the event at Permadi’s house arrives. Everything is working according to the plan, but when Goraf’s smoke device, which would be used to create a distraction, malfunctions, Sarah decides to become the distraction, creating a scene with Rama and his guards. This gives enough time for Goraf to turn the device on with a hard kick. The fire sprinklers get activated, and a shout from Tuktuk turns the whole calm ambiance into a chaotic one with people running to escape. Meanwhile, Goraf unlocks the door to Permadi’s private room, inside which Piko and Ucup are trapped. Using the chaos as a diversion, they take the painting out of the building, put it inside a truck, and escape. When Budiman sees his son and another kid carrying a large board covered with cloth and rushing outside, he realizes that they are stealing the painting and follows them. Piko and Ucup have cleared the vicinity of Permadi’s compound when they are apprehended by two masked men who try to steal their truck. Ucup manages to pull off the mask of one of them and stares into Piko’s father’s face. Piko is shocked. What stupefies Piko is how his father told him to trust himself, be strong, and face his problems even if he couldn’t talk about them when he went to see him in prison. It all made sense now that Budiman knew exactly what Piko had done and what he was going through. Budiman’s words of wisdom were perhaps nothing more than a way to convince his son to keep on doing what he was doing (stealing the painting), as it would ultimately serve as his ticket out of prison. In this way, he used his son. Budiman tells Piko that the painting is the only way to save himself, and he escapes in the truck with his partner, who is also the head of security at the event. When he takes the cloth off the painting, he finds out that it is another painting from one of Permadi’s walls. Budiman smiles at himself. His son has fooled him, and he seems to be proud of it, as he rightfully should.
‘Mencuri Raden Saleh’ Ending Explained – Does The Crew Get Hold Of The Real Raden Saleh Painting?
The ending shows how the crew made their contingency plan part of their actual plan and accomplished their mission. When the lights inside Permadi’s palace went off, thanks to the laptop planted by Ucup in the server room, which would turn off the lights when its cables were pulled, Goraf and Tuktuk would put the real Raden Saleh painting inside a sound mixer box, roll the box out, put it inside a different truck, and escape with Fella and Sarah. So Piko and Ucup’s truck was a decoy in case someone followed them. With Piko’s dad far away with a different painting and Permadi having no idea where his painting went, the crew can do whatever it wants with Saleh’s masterpiece. They are inside the truck when Dini, Permadi’s dealer, calls them and offers them $10 million for the painting. Piko and his friends’ dreams are about to come true. “Mencuri Raden Saleh” ends with the kids yelling out of excitement inside their little truck.
“Mencuri Raden Saleh” does a great job of showing not one but two heists, both equally well-executed in terms of filming and plot. What makes the wait between the two heists a test of patience isn’t the length of the film but our interest. We take the whole film with a pinch or two of salt, but the way in which the story is put on the screen holds on to our suspension of disbelief that rejoices in the thrill. What else can we want from a heist film, right?