One of the surprises of the last few years in film was the ability of The Raid: Redemption (an Indonesian action thriller) to make it into wide release in the United States and become a hit in terms of buzz. Almost immediately we were promised a sequel, which seemed odd as The Raid: Redemption seemed like such a standalone film. While The Raid 2 doesn’t function well as a sequel in terms of plot, it is a worthy companion to its predecessor as the scope of its world and the scale of its action scenes are raised to an incredible degree.
The Raid 2 picks up minutes after the first film as Andi (Donny Alamsyah) faces the consequences of his actions from the first film and Rama (Iko Uwais) is forced to take even more drastic measures in order to take down the crime syndicate that has run rampant in Jakarta. Unfortunately though, it becomes clear that this sequel is just going to waste the Rama-Andi relationship that became one of the more interesting parts about the first film. Even worse this sequel makes the mistake that most sequels make in that it expands the storyline with nothing really interesting to fit into all of the added space.
However, beyond this and a terrible performance from Arifin Putra in a key role as the heir to the crime syndicate, this film is a blast of fun. The action scenes are really well directed and choreographed by returning director Gareth Evans. This is really some of the best action you will see in a film this year, and it makes you wish Evans could teach American blockbuster directors a thing or two about staging action sequences. Even more incredible about the action sequences in this film is that Evans really knows how to set them up and continue to raise the stakes without any of them becoming overbearing. Additionally, it seems like the villain of every single action set piece is well established and comes across as unique from the others in the film.
It also helps that this film gets another strong performance from its leading man, Iko Uwais. Of course, Uwais is a perfect choice for the physical nature of the role, but in too many films that are just about fight scenes, the lead comes without any sort of charismatic energy. Uwais demonstrated he had that in the first film, and even in the much bigger storyline in this film that does not disappear.
The Raid 2 isn’t as good as its predecessor, but it isn’t that far behind it either. With some of the best action sequences you will ever see in a film, The Raid 2 is a film that action film fans won’t want to miss.