My wife went to Indonesia last year. Jakarta? Nah, she went by plane.
The Raid 2 (2014)
How do you solve a problem like
Maria a Raid sequel? It’s a tough one. The first one was basically a feature length action sequence with little story bits inserted to keep the whole thing from being utterly exhausting. How do you raise the stakes for a sequel? A taller building for Rama to scale? More bad dudes to fight through? Bad idea. Thankfully, The Raid 2 (subtitled “Berandal” in some places) knows just how- sweep the board clear and start playing a whole new game with different rules.
“You apologise! In their language, in our land! Where is your honour?”
So, after Rama (Iko Uwais) beat the shit out of an entire council estate’s worth of people, he’s recruited by Banuwar (Cok Simbara), the head of a secretive anti-corruption task force with a view to take down crooked cops and go after the gangsters bankrolling them. After initially declining his offer, Rama ends up with a personal stake in taking down Bejo (Alex Abbad) a gangster with great ambitions of climbing the crime ladder. Rama must go undercover to get close to the imprisoned son of mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo) and start bringing it down from the inside. Instead of delivering the same old flat story, The Raid 2 is a sprawling crime epic. It clocks in at significantly longer than its predecessor by about 40 minutes and you get the feeling it genuinely needs that extra elbow room to do justice to the narrative. As there’s more of a story focus this time round, the film’s in need of some proper performances and meets this admirably. Iko Uwais is just as fun to watch as he was in the first film and shows he’s no slouch when it comes to acting either. All the cast are impressive. Show stealer though is definitely Arifin Putra as Bangun’s son, Uco. He’s a petulant little shit with some serious issues barely contained under the surface and I loved every single minute he was on screen. Also worthy of a mention is the barely recognisable Yayan Ruhian (Mad Dog from the first ‘un) as Prakoso, a sort of tramp hitman (trashsassin?) with a penchant for machetes.
The Raid 2 is a bit of a cocktease. Let me qualify that before we get into some areas that may be off topic and distasteful. It knows you bought a ticket for the limb-snapping, flesh-slicing, face-punching action, but it’s in no hurry to get there. You know it’ll give you the business eventually, but it wants to make you squirm for a bit first. We get drip-fed a few bits of violence here and there, but it’s mostly concerned with world building and setting up motivations. This is how it should be. The pacing is just right. It knows when your attention may be starting to dwindle and will then hit you with something awesome. It builds tension incredibly well. By the time some action does kick off, it feels earned and organic. Christ, do you know how refreshing it is to not roll your eyes at Obligatory Action Sequence #73ba getting under way a mere few minutes after the last one for fear of losing the ADD crowd?
The action, hoo boy, the action. I genuinely had no idea how they were going to try and top the last film. More baddies? Nastier weapons? Lasers? Luckily, Evans, Uwais and the creative team are a lot smarter and more imaginative than I am. Whilst my first two predictions were kind of true, they’re implemented in a way that doesn’t seem like needless one-upmanship of what’s come before. There’s some great gunplay on display and there’s a car chase which I genuinely think is the finest car chase I’ve ever seen. Not content with following Rama around, the film also gives us three colourful mini-bosses in the forms of a man only known as “The Assassin” who favours some terrifyingly sharp curved daggers when it comes to wetwork and the brother and sister team of “Hammer Girl” and “Baseball Bat Man” whose chosen weapons should be pretty evident. Some of the shit these people get up to is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Much like the first film, you’ll be laughing and wincing in equal measures.
I suppose my one criticism of The Raid 2 is the fact the the scope is so much bigger, humble ol’ Rama gets lost in the mix occasionally. The film is still undoubtedly his, but his story is a lot stronger this time round and as such you miss him when the film is busy showing us what the three assassins or the various crime bosses are up to. The film gives the relatively incidential Prakoso a whole sympathetic backstory but then doesn’t really do anything with it. To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this slight lack of focus. One, it could be that I was just used to spending time with Rama after the first film had a heavy emphasis on him. Secondly, the Berandal script was written way before The Raid, but deemed too expensive and ambitious at the time and so was shelved until recently where it was dusted off and reworked into a Raid sequel. Still, only a minor niggle and definitely not a film breaking issue.
“It will be a few months. You can’t know where I am and I can’t be seen anywhere near you.”
So yeah, The Raid 2 is awesome. Gareth Evans is my favourite action director right now. Everything has been amped up in this sequel and frankly there’s not much that can touch it in my not-at-all humble, bordering on arrogant, opinion. Roll on The Raid 3.