The Raid 2 doesn’t pass the Youtube test. In other words, one would likely enjoy watching the best parts of The Raid 2 sans any of the context of the rest of the movie’s plot or characters as much, if not more, than watching the movie itself.
At a hefty 150 minutes, Gareth Evans’ martial arts bloodbath induces yawns and holy shit set-pieces with equal measure. It follows Iko Uwais once more as Rama, a good Indonesian cop in a world of corrupt ones. To bring down a bunch of baddies and keep his family safe from those angered over his do-goodery in the first film, Rama is forced to go undercover. How that makes sense is a mild mystery, along with the majority of Evans’ screenplay. The storyline here is a convoluted bore, growing worse with each new character, foe and sidekick along the way.
While attempting an action based take on Infernal Affairs is welcome, the character’s are too one-note to compel. The movie is more ambitious than the first outing, which ignored nearly everything plot-related for fisticuffs. There were chunks of time in that film where the onslaught dulled the impact of the chaos. Here, Evans has spread out the duels, but what extends it all tastes mostly like filler.
That said, those duels are really something. With some gorgeous cinematography by Matt Flannery and Dimas Iman Subhono, Evans stages his series of acrobatic punches, kicks and hurls impressively. No two fights feel the same, be it Rama’s campaign against dozens of men in a jail cubicle or the one-on-one rampage to the death that takes up much of the final twenty minutes. Where The Raid’s fights often ended abruptly, when someone is knocked down for good here, you know what the knockout blow is that caused it. While Evans does occasionally go tight with his camera on the beatdowns, he wisely knows when to take a step back as to encompass the scale and surroundings. This allows for several wonderfully jarring bits where a maneuver surprisingly launches an opponent a story or two down.
Still, why spend 150 minutes when not even a third of that has any meat to it. Give or take two months and you can be guaranteed that the finest of The Raid 2 can be consumed without all the tedious grease.