The Raid 2
Some astonishing set-pieces underwhelmed by this sequel's over-complicated and far less empathetic narrative
The first film in writer / director Gareth Evans’ proposed trilogy of martial arts thrillers was a kick-in-the-pants to the genre: a simple, fluid action film that showcased the art of pencak silat via the story of Jakarta policemen fighting their way out of an underworld tower block. The success of the film emboldened Evans to expand his universe to include most of Jakarta, and his 150-minute sequel will please the first film’s adherents while exhausting the patience of casual viewers.
Moments after his escape, Rama (Iko Uwais) is told that his actions have only scorched the snake of underworld activity; to make a meaningful difference, he has to go up against the big boys. After saying goodbye to his wife and child, Rama goes undercover in a brutal jail, where he gains the confidence of cartel bosses. Once he gets out, Rama cuts his way through the criminal ranks in a swathe of violent action.
While the overall storyline is simple, The Raid 2 suffers badly from the density of information about the various yakuza factions it describes; the storyline feels bloated, and the first hour offers only a couple of brief punch-ups, one ingeniously staged within a toilet cubicle, the other in a muddy prison yard. Evans may breathe new life into the fights, but his handling of the frequent power-broking discussions is nothing special.
But the last hour of The Raid 2 is all-action, delivering several astonishing set-pieces, one involving a hammer-whirling girl on a packed commuter train, the other a series of fights in and around cars careering through busy city streets. These rousing scenes deliver far more punch that anything in the original film, but their impact is muted by The Raid 2’s over-complicated and far less empathetic narrative.
General release from Fri 11 Apr.