The Raid 2 Screen 13 articles

The Raid 2

2014

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  • Characters, plot and atmosphere still aren’t really director Gareth Evans’ thing, but if the film’s occasional lulls aren’t especially interesting for their own sake, they at least offer a necessary respite that allows the bone-breaking violence to register with more, uh, impact.

  • The intensity really falls flat during the scenes in which the action stops and various characters ponder the vicissitudes of loyalty and betrayal and all that... Nobody's going to mistake these passages for Shakespeare. But the action stuff in "The Raid 2," while likely to alienate the squeamish and summon dark thoughts of cinematic nihilism amongst overthinking highbrows, really IS like nothing else out there.

  • Put simply, Evans' Johnny To impression isn't anywhere near as good as his John Carpenter... The plot, such as it is, is rote and Evans knows it. It's an excuse to get to the ass kickings, which is what he clearly enjoys directing. The camera's jittery impatience between beatdowns gets old fast; we're all waiting for the fight choreography yet the plot refuses to budge.

  • There's a lot to appreciate here, from one of the best car chases in recent memory to the spectacle of emotional exhaustion communicated via an endless series of brawls. Yet unlike truly transcendent action films, in which the physical battles become part and parcel of a broader expression of conflict, The Raid rarely puts its combat in any context. It's all showy viscera, no ballet, and wan attempts at the gravity of something like Drug War... don't come close to cohering.

  • The result may be a reversal of fandom: Those who (heresy alert?) felt benumbed by the first movie’s relentless gamer onslaught now have a bit more story to grab ahold of. Those who show up exclusively for the beat downs will have to contend with existential hand-wringing, as hero cop Rama (Iko Uwais) goes undercover to infiltrate the organization of mob leader Bangun (Tia Pakusadewo).

  • It may seem odd to chide a movie for giving its audience too much of a good thing, and yet The Raid 2 is finally more exhausting than exhilarating. An early shot of Rama repeatedly striking a cement prison wall in frustration proves oddly emblematic. The movie is powerful and relentless, but for all its pounding, it doesn’t really get anywhere.

  • Evans can't pull off a simple conversation to save his bacon, and his unnecessarily complex The Departed–style setup reveals a desperation to be taken seriously. He should rest easy: No other filmmaker on the planet can touch Evans for long-take beatdowns and wildly inventive flourishes that call to mind Jackie Chan's heyday with 1992's Supercop and little since. That's accomplishment enough.

  • Within the daisy-chaining brawls that ensue, there’s also something oddly grounded, even meditative: yeoman’s work by a decent, deadly hero. The Welsh-born Mr. Evans and his skilled crew of combat specialists sustain the movie’s extended warfare with discipline, the alert camerawork staving off the numbness induced by the preceding film. And it all ends with a hard-earned, satisfying signoff that recognizes the limits to the punishment the body can take.

  • More ambitious than the videogame structure of the original, Evans also showing a knack for Kubrickian flamboyance - from the Barry Lyndon snatch of Handel to those ultra-wide-angle shots of the ballroom, with its rich reds and golds. The action is vastly more coherent and exciting than the US blockbusters which presumably fill Indonesian multiplexes, though the fetishized violence - like the running-time - reeks of fanboy obsessiveness.

  • Clocking in at close to two-and-a-half hours, everything about The Raid 2 has been supercharged — from its masterfully choreographed set pieces to its multi-layered undercover cop narrative to its vast ensemble of idiosyncratic antagonists... Although it may not boast the dizzying bob-and-weave rhythm of the first film, nor the soberingly utilitarian villains, this is a remarkable feat of close-combat spectacle cinema.

  • The main pleasures of "The Raid 2" come from watching Evans take time setting up and knocking down his George R.R. Martin-worthy inventory of characters. Visually, "The Raid 2" is his most joyfully creative film. Leone-esque wide angle shots, and dizzyingly assured hand-held photography make every confrontation feel momentous.

  • If The Raid took place over a couple of hours, The Raid 2 takes place over years. If The Raid was mostly one guy fighting a bunch of other guys, The Raid 2 is many guys (and one exceptional gal) fighting each other in various head-spinning combinations. If The Raid was a tight, tough, flawlessly executed action flick, The Raid 2, while almost equally amazing, is a diffuse, ambitious, flawed gangster ballet.

  • This is not an action movie—it’s a violence movie. The film’s aesthetic isn’t the aesthetic of action, it’s the aesthetic of horror.The killers are nameless, they barely speak, they are unstoppable, and they generate massive quantities of gore with trademark weapons. Fights are full of lingering close-ups of faces being burnt, heads being blown open with shotguns, and Achilles tendons being severed... Action is no longer fun. It is hardcore.

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