The Raid 2 (2014)

The Raid 2 (2014)
Directed by: Gareth Evans
Country: Indonesia / USA

Movie Review: “The Raid 2” continues the saga of undercover agent Rama (performed once again by Iko Uwais), started three years ago with “The Raid: Redemption”, but without achieving the same surprise effects or impact. Right after the first mission, our hero subjects himself to a few years in prison in order to protect his family. Once there, he deliberately becomes friends with inmate Uco, an unscrupulous, greedy gangster whose father, Bangun, co-rules the city of Jakarta with the Japanese Goto clan. This operation aims to dismantle Jakarta's organized crime and uncover the corruption in his own police force. The interminable physical battles use the same astonishing choreographies to impress our eyes but the action festival becomes somewhat repetitive and consequently tiresome throughout its intense 150 minutes. The plot, written by Welsh director Gareth Evans, didn’t present anything really new apart from the quantity of deadly tools: hammers, different sorts of knives, swords, pickaxes and clubs. The places where the fights occur were also diverse: in the mud of a prison, in the snow of an alley, or even inside cars in movement. Using frequent close-ups to enhance Rama’s determination as well as the severe posture of the other men in face of danger, Evans’s direction wasn’t so brilliant and crushing as in the previous adventure, which takes place inside an old, claustrophobic and labyrinthine apartment building. Despite less appealing in conception and over exalted in its scenes of violence, “The Raid 2” provides sufficient energy to please the followers of the genre.

Modus Anomali (2012)

Modus Anomali (2012)
Directed by: Joko Anwar
Country: Indonesia

Review: “Modus Anomali” is a perfect example of a great idea wasted by its execution. It tried to disorient and induce paranoia with its claustrophobic scenes and almost experimental approach, but revealed a sort of amateurism both in direction and acting. The story begins with a man asking for help after having escaped from being buried alive in a secluded forest. He seemed to be searching for his own identity and family, but after a while we get to know that the reality was very different from what appeared to be. Despite the surprising conclusion evidenced by the plot, the struggle to find some comprehensive guideline among the incoherent signs and situations, led me to exasperation. The visual aspect didn't help, when unattractive dark plans were used to show the overnight manhunt, creating an almost imperceptible environment that couldn't be less scary. The film plays more with disturbing sounds, attempting to pass a sensation of being lost in the immensity of a forest. Once in a while, these sounds are interrupted by screams and questions thrown in the air in order to increase thrill. Imaginative Joko Anwar didn’t reveal enough skills as director as showed as a writer. Hardly frightful and impaired by Rio Dewanto's awful performance, “Modus Anomali” proved to be obtuse in many ways.

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

Directed by: Gareth Evans
Country: Indonesia

Plot: A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.
Quick comment: This vibrant movie from Indonesia was a surprise, delivering intense battles between a cop squad and drug dealers inside an old labyrinthine building. I was impressed by how the physical fights were so accurate. The big issue with this movie was the use and abuse of detailed scenes of violence. Fortunately, there’s more here than just fights and shots, with the story revealing some surprising twists. Exhausting, but also an ebullient action movie.
Relevant awards: Best film (Dublin); people's choice (Toronto); silver screen award (Amsterdam).