The Raid 2 (2014)
I’ve heard so many things about The Raid 2 over the years and how amazing it is. That it is basically the gold standard to all other action movies. When I watched the first Raid movie a couple of years ago, it had such a sense of independence you don’t see all that often from an action movie. Everything felt properly paced and well thought out, with interesting villains and just a rush as the main character climbed the floors of a slum, to defeat the evil slumlord. I loved it and really didn’t think it could be beat.
So starting out I really didn’t know what to expect from the sequel. After the first hour or so, one word comes to mind. Gross. It’s just a very dirty and gross looking and feeling movie. I love violent and crazy action movies, but this movie just wasn’t anything I was expecting. It’s plot isn’t interesting, the action is in between long stretches of boring and poorly written dialog and awkward scenes that make you cringe right out of your seat.
When the action gets going, it is brutal and visceral. Almost too much for me. It feels real and for me, it’s something I have a hard time watching. With movies like Rambo or Terminator the violence is so over the top it’s funny. But here in the Raid 2 it is disturbing and disgusting. Even when the action is good it just is something so dark that you don’t really want to see it. There are multiple deaths that evoke the same spine shivering as the curb stomp.
The camera work and shots that are used are some examples of great technique and thinking outside the box. Having the camera follow through the window with the character as he smashes through it, or an upside down pan across a dark alley as a slow chase is taking place. It really is a change of pace to see good camera work in an action movie. Even the first shot of the movie, with a wide angle shot of a field and two cars rolling up in the very lower left corner, almost out of shot. It’s wonderful to see something different.
However the camera during the action is way too shaky for it to be enjoyable or even interesting. Far too often the camera is vibrating so much you can’t tell what’s happening. Sometimes it’s so much that I almost laughed because it was shaking when no one was even moving. It’s upsetting that the film industry held on to this notion that shaking the camera equates to making the action more intense. Instead, all it does is make the choreography and action become lazy and not stand on its own.
I really wanted to like the movie and there are decent parts of it, but most of it is weighed down by too much boring dialog acted out poorly and the over use of droning music to signify emotions. The English dubbing is pretty bad as well, the voice acting feels like all these actors are reading for white guy family sitcom 208. The over enunciation and everything is so clearly spoken in front of a microphone that it feels out of place.
The one shining point of the movie is the character who is basically a mercenary, an old man who only lives for the day to see his daughter again, and who takes up the most violent jobs to pay to keep food on the table… even though he isn’t allowed to see her. The small moments of character development for him is a joy to watch and honestly I’d love the movie to be about him much more than anyone else.
Nothing about this movie surpasses the original. In terms of storytelling, suspense, or even acting. The action is crazy, and intense, but with the overuse of shakycam and gore to drive home the point of violence, it seems to rely on that more than it should. I’m extremely disappointed by how underwhelming this sequel is and will never recommend it to anyone over the original.