The sequel to Indonesia’s smash martial arts/action hit ‘The Raid’ back in 2011 returns Iko Uwais to once again fill the shoes of Jakarta’s hardest cop Rama, this time sending him undercover to deal with organised crime families that have eluded the long arm of the law for too long. Director and writer Gareth Evans has returned to deliver the second instalment, but things have gone very, very wrong this time around. Previously we were taken into the tense environment of a single tower block that the police were infiltrating and then had to fight for their lives to escape from – it was a pretty solid action film. Here, with the story expanded significantly it’s all over the place, with loose direction, editing and screenwriting meandering from the word go, degenerating into essentially a big-screen version of GTA but without the enjoyment of being in control. It even comes dangerously close to aping a scene from ‘The Godfather’ (72) and, by extension, one of the most famous scenes in all of film history.
This is all negative. However, it’s worst trait is the level of deplorable violence it smashes onto the screen constantly, which is not only unnecessary but goes much darker to the point of revelling in its own blood soaked gratuity. It’s pretty disgusting to watch, and often difficult to follow it’s so badly put together. Indeed, the main character at the beginning is dead against the killing of a bad guy who is tied up, wanting instead to bring him to face justice, but I’m pretty sure about twenty minutes later he can be seen bashing someone’s skull in with a rock for no good reason – I can’t be certain because it’s been filmed in such a scrappy way, all with relentless hues of grey used throughout the film which absolutely doesn’t help, in fact the one or two moments of real light and sunshine are a massive welcome relief from the enforced dreariness of the film.
It absolutely glorifies violence, but then it’s so horrific that it also manages to negate that effect at the same time. Some of the scenes are well choreographed and work as intended, and Tio Pakusodewo and Arifin Putra are good in their roles as one of the Kingpins and his son, but this is ultimately disastrously misjudged.