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Taking place two hours after the first film, The Raid 2 finds our hero Rama forced to go undercover in an operation to weed out the corrupt in the police force. As a marked man after the events of the The Raid, he has no choice but to distance himself from his family completely, claim a new identity and attempt to get close to the son of one of the two rival mob families that run Jakarta.
As Rama slowly moves up the ranks in the mob and tensions begin to emerge between the two families, he soons finds himself in an all out war and of course much punching, kicking and general violence ensues.
I really wanted to love The Raid 2, but I didn’t. I really should start by saying that I loved the first movie for what it was; an hour and a half of pure mayhem set against an almost video game type plot, our protagonist making his way up the various levels to eventually get to the big boss at the end.
The brilliant marketing for its sequel promised bigger in terms of both action and plot, but I couldn’t help feeling that it would lack the contained narrative of the first. Unfortunately it did.
I completely admire what Welsh director and writer Gareth Evans has set out to achieve with this, blowing open the story and attempting to turn it into a crime epic akin to The Godfather or The Dark Knight. But whilst his mastery of violence and action is undeniable, his storytelling is somewhat lacking.
The main issue I have with the film is that there’s just too much going on. Rama, the character we’re supposed to be rooting for, disappears for sections at a time as the story spins off in different directions. His dilemma of having to abandon his family for the sake of his morals is an element of the story which should have been the central the film but isn’t explored in enough detail.
Instead, we are introduced to character after character, each struggling to get more screen time than the other. The James Bond-esque assassins who come complete with some kind of disability and weapon of choice are excellent creations but only introduced to us an hour and a half into the film, and hardly developed at all.
It’s not until the final act that the film really comes into its own, with the brilliant and brutal action sequence more in-keeping with the action of the first film. Critics and film-goers alike have praised the car chase scene as being one of best sequences in the film and it is fantastic; but it’s the final kitchen sequence where Rama goes head to head with one of the assassins that steals the show for me. Like a ballet filled with blood and guts, this amazing choreographed scene is truly thrilling.
However, this scene right at the end of its two and a half hour run time is too little, too late.
Whilst The Raid 2 is a very well made film with some moments of brilliance throughout, as a whole it’s not completely satisfying.,The story is in need of reigning in and there’s far too much going on. The only thing I’ll really take away from it is the obvious directing talents of Gareth Evans, and for that it’s certainly worth a watch. But be warned, the violence is not for the faint of heart.