The Raid 2 (Review)

DIRECTOR: Gareth Evans

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

With a title like The Raid 2, the follow-up to the surprise 2012 action hit set entirely in a block of apartments during a police raid, you’d expect it to heavily rehash that same plot just in different settings, not unlike the Hangover sequels. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth; not only is The Raid 2 a completely different beast in and of itself, but no raid is ever conducted once in its slightly-overlong 150-minute runtime.

So, a bit of false advertising on that front, but when the film is this heavily rooted in non-stop action do you even care about that?

And we’re not exaggerating when we say “non-stop”. Almost from the very start heads are smashed, limbs are broken, guns are shot, and all other kinds of violence that earn it its rightful 18 certificate. Put simply, the levels of action and violence in this film are at INSANE levels, and dedicated fans of the hard-action genre are going to be in heaven when they see this film. Each and every scene of physical conflict is highly stylised with some of the most passionate and stunning fight choreography seen in recent years, a positive carried right on over from director Gareth Evans’ previous Raid film. To list certain highlights would be akin to choosing your favourite child, they’re all so effective; however, an early rumble in the muddied pens of a prison sticks firmly in the memory, while a climactic duel between protagonist Rama (Iko Uwais) and an unnamed henchman never seems to end but with every punch pulled you feel the bruises and cuts suffered. These, we’re glad to say, are the tip of the iceberg when describing how many action scenes there are.

However, because the film is packed with action scene after action scene, the viewing experience can become tiring after a while. Very rarely, especially in the middle section of the film, do we ever get the chance to catch our breath and recuperate our senses so we can focus on what’s happening next. Every once in a while, the English subtitles (dialogue is almost entirely spoken in Indonesian) go by in a flash before we even have a chance to read them. Not that the heavy inclusion of action is a necessarily bad thing but here it ends up leaving one exhausted long before the credits roll, with little concern for the mental state of its audience who are probably still trying to absorb everything before moving on.

This time spanning the film across various years, Evans allows characters old and new to become much more developed and rounded, a common criticism of its predecessor. Uwais does fine work as a protagonist we accustom ourselves with enough to follow, but he turns out to become a lesser figure in the game as he gradually gets overshadowed by various other characters. Most prominent is perhaps Arifin Putra, as the arrogant and dissatisfied son of a powerful crime boss, who starts off as the one-dimensional spoiled gangster son we’ve seen before but gradually becomes more and more three-dimensional as the film goes on. At times, he can show his dangerous and angry side – in one particular scene, he verbally and physically abuses a pair of prostitutes in reaction to a minor snide comment one of them made – but in others he is shown to be extremely vulnerable and easily manipulated by others, especially by a creepy young crime boss played by Alex Abbad.

Further minor characters, including a vicious brother-sister team known only as “Baseball Bat Man” and “Hammer Girl” respectively, and a vagabond machete-wielding assassin with close ties to certain main characters, have great memorable moments that help them stand out, even if the rest of the film is so stuffed with action and more action that they aren’t developed as strongly as other characters. But it’s all good, as long as The Raid 2 manages to satisfy as well as deliver its audience exactly what they expect. Thankfully, it does that and a little bit more.

SO, TO SUM UP…

The Raid 2 is an action extravaganza with multiple scenes of fights, bloody violence and suspenseful direction by Gareth Evans making it a must-see for any fans of the action genre. It’s a little too long, and said action may leave you exhausted long before it ends, but it’s definitely worth seeing if all you want is hardcore action and not a lot much else to it.

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