The Raid 2 ★★★

This is an action film masquerading as an intriguing crime family saga. The film is hyped for its incredibly intense fight sequences, its brutal and unrelenting depiction of its consequences (something it shares with the first Raid film), and its “badass factor”. It’s certainly badass. But that’s not enough for me.

I’d say it’s more worthy of the hype for its ambition – both for its complex story and its at-times insane approach to action cinematography. But does it actually deliver value in both of these avenues? The latter, surely. The film’s climactic final battle is perhaps one of the best-choreographed scenes I’ve ever seen. Unrelenting and prone to leaving you anxiety-ridden, it’s well worth the price of admission. Other fight scenes don’t quite live up to the same calibre (how could they?), but add to the mix an insane care chase sequence - one in which
camera operators literally disguised themselves as vehicle interiors
just so they could film it - and what we’ve got is an undeniably fantastic set of action sequences.

The problem is that the rest of the film doesn’t bind them together very well. Here’s where my opinion seems to differ from many others I’ve read, where consensus would seem to suggest that the film’s sprawling Godfather-esque plot is actually worth sitting through. Sounds harsh, I know. But it’s just really not that good. It’s not that I think it’s convoluted - which would suggest it were difficult to follow - but rather that I feel so much of it is superfluous. Character backstories and personality traits are so heavy-handed that the film’s development of character feels more like a graphic novel or manga, made for a format where we can take the time to shade in some dimensionality. But here on screen, even with about an hour of material that could have even cut from the film, none of the effort towards that goal pays off.

If the film’s plot were anywhere near as brutally efficient as its action set pieces, or at the very least grounded in the straight-forward determination that made the first film resonate so strongly, this second instalment could have been a far more impressive film as a whole.