Three years ago, writer/director Gareth Evans revolutionized the action genre with his simple tale of a SWAT team that gets trapped in an apartment building full of killers in “The Raid: Redemption”. With his second installment of the Indonesian “Raid” series, the tale is not so simple.
After the events of the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais) is recruited to go undercover with a ruthless crime syndicate in order to weed out crooked cops hiding within the police force. Similar to films like “The Departed”, the protagonist is forced to give up years of his life in order to get in with the bad guys and build up his street cred. While the story template may sound familiar, the story includes a few twists and turns to separate it from most crime films.
The amount of story pumped into this sequel is what sets it apart from its predecessor. Simply looking at the running times, “The Raid 2” is roughly 50 minutes longer than the first go-round. While it’s great to have more plot development, this does affect the pacing of the film. The original’s pacing was perfect, with action sequences being planted so frequently together you could never get bored. Though it would be a stretch to ever call this new film “boring”, I admit to checking my watch more than once.
This more developed storyline gives the audience a new collection of villains to enjoy like Julie Estelle’s Hammer Girl and an assassin with an aluminum bat that would give Babe Ruth a lesson in shot-calling. The main baddie is played by Arifin Putra with equal parts smug rich boy and deranged psycho.
Sacrificing the claustrophobic feel of “Redemption”, we now get a variety of set pieces for the action including a great nightclub fight with Yayan Ruhian, who stole the show in the first film, and a prison yard fight set in the thickest mud imaginable.
Of course the film has a reputation to keep concerning the choreography of its action sequences, and in that regard the film does not disappoint. Although the camera uses a few too many quick cuts and shaky images, the choreography is top notch. The final fight scene between Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman (pictured above) is worth the price of admission alone.
There has been a little noise made over the possibility of an American version of “The Raid” coming soon (because why not?). Hopefully they can hold off until Evans and Co. finish up the trilogy before polluting the water, but on the off chance they actually did it justice, it would be fun to watch American actors putting together similar fight sequences.
“The Raid 2” doesn’t run quite as smoothly as its predecessor, but by delivering more story development and continuing the franchise’s high standard for action choreography, the film will still be one of the year’s best action films.