The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)

The Raid BerandalMere hours after having survived an unsolicited police raid on Tama Riyadi’s Jakartan tower block, Rama (Iko Uwais) is given a new mission: to go undercover to root our corruption within the capital’s police force. His first objective is to infiltrate Bangun’s (Tio Pakusadewo) mob ranks through his son, Uco (Arifin Putra), who is currently serving a prison sentence and in need of a better bodyguard. Unfortunately for Rama, Uco — sick of playing the menial role of debt collector within his father’s empire — is planning a coup with rival gang leader Bejo (Alex Abbad). If he is ever to see his wife and child again, he is going to have to work quickly to fulfill his mission before his true identity is discovered or Jakarta’s criminal underbelly erupts into gang warfare.

Gareth Evans’ hit 2012 film The Raid appealed to the critical community and general audiences alike. It premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, before going on to earn $15 million at the global box office from a menial $1.1 million budget. Subtitled Redemption in the U.S. when Sony Pictures Classics couldn’t secure the rights to the international title, The Raid almost seemed destined from the outset to become a fully fledged franchise. And so it has transpired, with The Raid: Berandal soon set to arrive in cinemas and Evans indicating in interviews that there are plans to grow it further into a trilogy.

Berandal isn’t your average sequel, however; originally planned as a stand-alone crime epic long before The Raid was first conceived, the original story has been adapted to act as a continuation of Rama’s arc. The integration of these two different story threads is incredibly jarring, as new characters are introduced and old characters are dropped in an awkward transition that also acts as a shift from survival horror to crime epic. On one hand you’ve got Rama trying to get back to his wife and child, while on the other there’s Bejo trying to upset the fragile equilibrium that exists between crime kingpins Bangun and Goto. By the time Kick-Ass rejects Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man and The Assassin show up it’s difficult to tell what you’re watching: martial arts, political thriller or superhero movie.

The plot, as it is set out in the opening minutes of the movie (and in the above synopsis), is that Rama must go undercover to identify corruption within the police force. However, when this is mentioned once more just before the final set piece, it becomes apparent that despite being two hours into its 150 minute running time The Raid 2: Berandal has completely forgot to feature any bent cops. It’s only if you ignore the plot and focus solely on the action that the film actually impresses; Uwais is as effective as he was before, both at carrying the film and at kicking ass. Unfortunately, he’s not always on screen, and the scenes without him suffer a distinct lack of focus as well as a character the audience can actually cares for. He’s gone from rookie cop to Übermensch, and the biggest problem with The Raid 2: Berandal is that it’s strangely weightless, inconsequential, boring.

Some reviews are comparing it to The Dark Knight, but a more fitting comparison would be The Matrix Reloaded. In essence, The Raid was a muscular and imaginative martial arts movie that brought Indonesian cinema to western audiences. The Raid: Berandal, conversely, doesn’t know what it, and it shows. It’s a confused mess, self-serious and over-long, and as nail-biting as the action beats might be it just isn’t enough to sustain a movie that’s clearly trying (but ultimately failing) to do so much more.

2-stars

 

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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