The Raid 2 – Movie Review by Sean Kingston
Dir: Gareth Evans
Running time: 150 mins.
Release Date: April 11th
In 2011, Welsh director Gareth Evans cemented himself as the action movie director to watch. The Raid was never accused to of being overly cerebral; but the story of a SWAT Team attempting to clear a high rise of a deeply entrenched criminal gang was uncontested for action movie of the year. Anybody who saw it in a packed-out cinema can no doubt attest to collective wincing during the stunningly choreographed fight scenes, and communal cheers as our hero, Rama (Iko Uwais), dispatched the machete gang, or any number of sprightly hard cases for that matter.
Evans is to be commended for not being content to simply deliver more of the same with his sequel. The film initially opens only several hours after the events of The Raid. Rama, now public enemy number one in the criminal underworld, is told his only chance of survival is to go undercover and bring down the gangs from the inside. Dropped into prison, two years pass as he integrates himself with would-be kingpin, Ucok (Arifin Putra). Upon his release, Rama finds takes up position as Ucok’s bodyguard as a turf war brews between three rival factions and Ucok makes a play to unseat his father as head of the syndicate.
Let’s start with the problems and work backwards. Firstly, the script cannot avoid comparisons with Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s 2002 thriller that itself was the basis for The Departed. The Affairs trilogy cornered the market in the “mole in the mob” genre and it’s impossible not to see its influence here. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; Evans has taken his story out of the tower block and given it room to breathe, fleshing out his characters and giving them real motivations and three dimensions. Where the problem lies, is in the marrying of these new lofty themes and ambitious story arcs with THOSE fight scenes. In some ways it feels like two different films. The Raid was unparalleled in terms of action, but we never felt compelled to believe a person could stand half as much punishment as Rama takes inside of an hour. Here however, firmly rooted in the real world, it’s just that bit harder to separate the, let’s face it, cartoonish scale of the fight scenes, from the extremely involved nature of the storyline.
But, these are observations more than criticisms. Gareth Evans could have rehashed his original and gotten away with it, he chose to build on it and the rewards are many. Iko Uwais, acting as fight choreographer in addition to leading man, is nothing short of a genius. His command of screen combat is staggering; from baseball bats, to hammer wielding, to brawls in toilet stalls, the action scenes in The Raid 2 build on the original in almost every way. Evans also edits these set-pieces brilliantly, avoiding the overly choppy, “can’t quite see what’s going on” type of combat that many latter-day actioners have been guilty of.
Reviews are almost a moot point; you already know whether or not The Raid 2 is your kind of film. If you loved the original but wanted a bit more meat on the bones story-wise, then all the pieces are in place here. And while, at two and a half hours, Evans slightly over reaches himself, it’s really very hard to care once the fists start flying. And bats. And hammers.
Categories: Best New Movies, Movie Review, Movies
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