Runtime: 150 Mins
What To Expect: A bloated thriller with some shaking-cam fight scenes
Well, it should’ve been the best action movie of this year. Whisper it, some of us were hoping this decade. But I have to tell it as I see it – The Raid 2 is a huge disappointment. It’s a long movie with very bad pacing, a mediocre gangster thriller. I kept thinking, “this is the scene”… where the movie will pick up. It never happened. The movie gets to its narrative conclusion like a tortoise climbing a flight of stairs. Perhaps the biggest disappointment, for me, were the fight scenes – in general the sloppy camera work just refused to keep up with the chaos. How did this happen?
The movie begins immediately after the original where Rama (Iko Uwais), a policeman from a special task force, must infiltrate the gangsters that are laying waste to his city. This premise is as old as the hills so unless you have a very unique take on it, you should avoid dwelling on it as a story and tighten up your pacing. The Raid 2 doesn’t do that! It forces a story that is scarcely interesting (or well written) on us for over two hours. When it comes to the genre of undercover gangsterism, the movie also draws heavily from the book of cliches too. The ditching of the wire, the mentor wanting to rise through the ranks and so forth. We’ve seen this all before.
The original movie knew its own strengths. A simple story custom fitted for an action movie, it was almost a brutal and effective 21st century riff on Die Hard. This movie is like an ineffective 2010’s riff on Infernal Affairs and/or The Departed. Again and again, scenes drag on and certainly not for the purpose of illustrating some type of point. The movie has switched genres from the first. Bad move, other people have done this better. Does it have its quirks? Sure does, Hammer Girl is a superb villain, ‘Baseball’ an even better one – when we can see ’em properly that is.
Even if the fight scenes were the equal of the original I’m not sure they’d even be enough to sell the movie. But therein lies another problem, I didn’t dig these fight scenes too much. Yes, they’re brutal and bloody with some home runs, but overall they are a frustration. Sadly, Evans swings his camera and swings it wildly. While not always, often incredibly well executed fights are let down by shitty tracking. Look, a two minute fight sequence where you can clearly see what’s happening is better than a 10 minute fight sequence that looks like the camera has been strapped to a dogs back. It’s unintuitive and impersonal. The original pushed the limit with this, narrowly sustaining coherence. This one goes over the edge.
This was a movie in dire need of an editor. Someone who could cut out the dead weight of the story and iron out the often barely comprehensible action. Somewhere in it, there lurks a killer movie. Gareth Evans, what happened?