Starring: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra
Genre: Action/ Thriller
Severely battered and bruised after almost single-handedly taking down an entire gang of criminals from the first raid on a Jakarta tower bock, rookie cop Rama (Uwais) discovers that the whole gang he took down are nothing compared to what awaits him now. His actions have attracted attention from far more powerful and dangerous individuals and, to protect the safety of his family, Rama’s work has only just begun. He must now go undercover which starts with being imprisoned, befriending the son of a gang kingpin and eventually climbing his way up (and very much fighting his way through) the Jakarta gangland hierarchy to finally uncover the extent of corrupt cops and politicians. However, as the bodies pile up and double crosses are revealed, he finds himself fighting alone and outnumbered more than ever before.
With The Raid Welsh born Gareth Evans proved all the big studios that you do not need expensive CGI set pieces to deliver thrilling action. Well, a reasonable criticism of The Raid was that it lacked any real narrative cohesion, with an almost make-it-up-as-it-went-along approach with some wafer thin plot there to hold together all the set pieces, though of course the far more expensive Dredd also had a very similar plot. Well, at 150 minutes The Raid 2 seemingly has a far more ambitious plot, but it is in fact an extremely clichéd and typical plot of the genre with every development and ‘twist’ painfully predictable. Like a 90s erotic thriller (we have all seen them) where there is some wafer thin plot to justify a ridiculous amount of (bad) sex scenes, The Raid 2 does feel very similar, but with fight scenes.
However, let’s face it: No one is going to watch The Raid 2 for its deep and meaningful original plot. It is solely about the action sequences, and oh WHAT action sequences! Gareth Evans has crafted some of the most breathtaking and quite frankly bonkers fight sequences ever made in film. I have seen ‘greatest action film ever made’ quotes attached to The Raid 2, which is in my view plain stupid, but there is no denying the set pieces are painstakingly choreographed and gloriously entertaining.
However, clichéd plot aside (that is admittedly forgivable), for me The Raid 2 is not without its problems. Let’s face it; after The Raid we only want to see The Raid 2 for its jaw dropping action. Well, at 150 minutes the film is way too long, with scenes and dialogue exchanges that are boring and add nothing. It occasionally feels that the universal praise Evans received for The Raid has gone to his head a bit; some painfully long shots of nothing venture into Only God Forgives territory (a very, very bad thing!), perhaps there to add atmosphere, they just feel like boring and clichéd over explained exposition, and style over substance.
There is very little character development, so we care little for these clichéd characters and therefore I have no idea why Evans thinks we want to watch them have very slow conversations. Also, it does seem clear from the mannerisms of one the main characters Evans is a fan of Dr. Strangelove. Trust me, watch the film and you will see what I mean, it does however add farcical fun to a film that ultimately cannot be taken too seriously. That said, this time Iko Uwais gets his chance to do some acting and comes across as a very likeable and sympathetic protagonist.
There is also one thing that did stay with me after watching The Raid 2: We have an outrageously long punch up in a kitchen, but yet Gareth Evans avoids the temptation of ever having frying pans involved! I am not sure that is to be commended or criticised, but I just thought I should mention it!
The Raid 2 is without a doubt too long, has a painfully clichéd plot and some overwritten dialogue heavy scenes, but with some of the most impressively choreographed and shot fight sequences in recent memory, is also one of the most outrageously entertaining and bonkers action films of recent times.