Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Raid 2

An ultra-violent sequel that revels in martial-arts murder and mutilation with an enthusiasm that’s as repugnant as its flimsy undercover-cop story is clichéd.

March 25, 2014

-By Nick Schager


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1396968-Raid_2_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The Raid 2 opens with talk of “ambition” and “limitations”—apt topics, given that this sequel has plenty of both. Writer-director Gareth Evans’ follow-up to his insanely brutal 2011 Indonesian import aims to elevate the series to even loftier heights, drenching its tale in portentous slow-motion tracking shots, zooms and pans that create a mood of momentous import. Alas, such aesthetics—which also include maudlin piano music for its more mournful moments—are merely window-dressing for what amounts to an even gorier saga of hand-to-hand and firearm gruesomeness. A cornucopia of snapped limbs, severed arteries, smashed faces and bullet-riddled bodies that goes on for an absurdly excessive 148 minutes, the film revels in martial-arts ultra-violence with almost juvenile glee, fixating on images of mutilation and murder with an enthusiasm that borders on the sadistic.

Consequently, The Raid 2 proves to be one of the most repugnant spectacles in recent memory, and one made all the more unpleasant by its epic pretensions. Eschewing its predecessor’s videogame-inspired template, in which one rogue cop was forced to make his way through a high-rise populated by increasingly vicious adversaries—a structure that gave its action an escalating, electric momentum—Evans’ sequel merely resorts to turgid police-drama clichés. Having just barely survived his prior ordeal, supercop Rama (Iko Uwais) is sent undercover to nail a corrupt police chief, a mission that requires him to go to prison and befriend Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of a crime boss named Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) who’s currently enjoying a ten-year truce with rival Japanese boss Mr. Goto (Ken’ichi Endô). Rama accepts the assignment because he wants revenge for the murder of his brother, who was killed by Bejo (Alex Abbad), a crippled schemer trying to start a war between Bangun and Goto.

Dramatically speaking, what follows is formulaic and second-rate, with Rama earning Bangun and Uco’s trust even as his tenuous position in the crime family is threatened by Uco’s insecurity-fueled, power-hungry desire to succeed his father as boss. Yet for all its drawn-out conversational scenes that prolong the material well past a reasonable runtime, The Raid 2 is a thematically empty endeavor. Rama’s quest speaks to nothing because its sole purpose is to provide Evans with opportunities to stage a variety of technically impressive set-pieces—a limited function at which he succeeds, albeit without generating any suspense or excitement.

As before, Uwais’ furious combat skills are an impressive sight, and Evans’ handheld cinematography lucidly captures his star’s physical prowess (as well as that of Yayan Ruhian, the original’s standout villain, here shoehorned into a pointless subplot). Unfortunately, the monotonous procession of vile sights on display quickly turns the film revolting. The Raid 2 seems intent on courting some sort of R-rated fanboy credibility by not flinching when heads are obliterated by shotgun blasts, motorcyclists take rounds of Uzi fire to the helmet (and then fall underneath a speeding car’s wheels), and featureless henchman are bludgeoned, hacked and slashed to pieces by a hoodie-wearing assassin with a baseball bat and a deaf woman wielding claw hammers. Without any purpose except to entertain through endless, extreme cruelty and carnage, the film’s overall effect is to both numb the mind and churn the stomach—as well as to make one feel kinship with those background characters who, caught in the middle of Rama and company’s skirmishes, flee such mayhem in horror.


Film Review: The Raid 2

An ultra-violent sequel that revels in martial-arts murder and mutilation with an enthusiasm that’s as repugnant as its flimsy undercover-cop story is clichéd.

March 25, 2014

-By Nick Schager


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1396968-Raid_2_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The Raid 2 opens with talk of “ambition” and “limitations”—apt topics, given that this sequel has plenty of both. Writer-director Gareth Evans’ follow-up to his insanely brutal 2011 Indonesian import aims to elevate the series to even loftier heights, drenching its tale in portentous slow-motion tracking shots, zooms and pans that create a mood of momentous import. Alas, such aesthetics—which also include maudlin piano music for its more mournful moments—are merely window-dressing for what amounts to an even gorier saga of hand-to-hand and firearm gruesomeness. A cornucopia of snapped limbs, severed arteries, smashed faces and bullet-riddled bodies that goes on for an absurdly excessive 148 minutes, the film revels in martial-arts ultra-violence with almost juvenile glee, fixating on images of mutilation and murder with an enthusiasm that borders on the sadistic.

Consequently, The Raid 2 proves to be one of the most repugnant spectacles in recent memory, and one made all the more unpleasant by its epic pretensions. Eschewing its predecessor’s videogame-inspired template, in which one rogue cop was forced to make his way through a high-rise populated by increasingly vicious adversaries—a structure that gave its action an escalating, electric momentum—Evans’ sequel merely resorts to turgid police-drama clichés. Having just barely survived his prior ordeal, supercop Rama (Iko Uwais) is sent undercover to nail a corrupt police chief, a mission that requires him to go to prison and befriend Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of a crime boss named Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) who’s currently enjoying a ten-year truce with rival Japanese boss Mr. Goto (Ken’ichi Endô). Rama accepts the assignment because he wants revenge for the murder of his brother, who was killed by Bejo (Alex Abbad), a crippled schemer trying to start a war between Bangun and Goto.

Dramatically speaking, what follows is formulaic and second-rate, with Rama earning Bangun and Uco’s trust even as his tenuous position in the crime family is threatened by Uco’s insecurity-fueled, power-hungry desire to succeed his father as boss. Yet for all its drawn-out conversational scenes that prolong the material well past a reasonable runtime, The Raid 2 is a thematically empty endeavor. Rama’s quest speaks to nothing because its sole purpose is to provide Evans with opportunities to stage a variety of technically impressive set-pieces—a limited function at which he succeeds, albeit without generating any suspense or excitement.

As before, Uwais’ furious combat skills are an impressive sight, and Evans’ handheld cinematography lucidly captures his star’s physical prowess (as well as that of Yayan Ruhian, the original’s standout villain, here shoehorned into a pointless subplot). Unfortunately, the monotonous procession of vile sights on display quickly turns the film revolting. The Raid 2 seems intent on courting some sort of R-rated fanboy credibility by not flinching when heads are obliterated by shotgun blasts, motorcyclists take rounds of Uzi fire to the helmet (and then fall underneath a speeding car’s wheels), and featureless henchman are bludgeoned, hacked and slashed to pieces by a hoodie-wearing assassin with a baseball bat and a deaf woman wielding claw hammers. Without any purpose except to entertain through endless, extreme cruelty and carnage, the film’s overall effect is to both numb the mind and churn the stomach—as well as to make one feel kinship with those background characters who, caught in the middle of Rama and company’s skirmishes, flee such mayhem in horror.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

If You Don't., I Will
Film Review: If You Don't, I Will

Anemic drama about a forever-bickering couple who do not at all get along nor emit a scintilla of chemistry. It’s a disappointing, too-lean portrait of a marriage. More »

Mr. Turner
Film Review: Mr. Turner

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, arguably the year’s most gorgeous film, Timothy Spall etches an indelible portrait of the great painter, aided by a marvelous supporting cast who make the period spring alive. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here