A second helping of Indonesian carnage dominates this week’s DVD round-up.
Two years after The Raid earned an appreciative DVD audience with its dementedly violent story of a clean-cut cop fighting his way through a scum-ridden Jakarta tower block, its sequel The Raid 2 (EntertainmentOne) arrives on DVD.
After battling his way out of the aforementioned building, rookie cop Rama (played by former footballer/delivery driver/Silat fighter Iko Uwais) thought he could resume a normal life with his young family. Unfortunately, he couldn’t have been more wrong: his handiwork has attracted the attention of a clandestine anti-corruption task force, and he is blackmailed into infiltrating a notorious local crime family, with a view to bringing down a number of senior cops in the process.
Gangster movie, prison movie, action movie… Welsh director Gareth Evans throws everything into the mix the second time around, with varying degrees of success. The numerous action set-pieces are uniformly spectacular – and all end in gore-streaked carnage – but the mind-boggling two-and-a-half-hour run-time turns the film into something of an endurance test. Considering plans are already under way for a third instalment, Evans really could have afforded to hold something back.
While big chunks of The Raid 2 the film are superior to the first film, on the whole the sequel feels like less than the sum of its parts. While Evans’ filmmaking abilities are not in doubt, his questionable judgement undermines what should have been a top-drawer follow-up. Too much of a good thing, perhaps – but The Raid 2 is definitely a good thing. If you need a break from feeble Hollywood action fodder, the Raid movies are an enjoyably full-blooded alternative and come heavily recommended.
Mild-mannered Ivan Locke has a perfect family and a dream job in construction, and he is working towards the crowning moment of his career – a multi-million-pound concrete pour. However, a surprise phone call forces him to make a decision that will put it all on the line… Set entirely in Ivan’s BMW, Locke (Lionsgate) follows the title character’s existential journey into the unknown, as he literally heads out of his comfort zone, from Birmingham to London, on an ill-conceived quest to vanquish his personal demons and ‘do the right thing’.
Locke writer/director Steven Knight carved himself an impressive reputation with screenplays for Dirty Pretty Things (2002) and Eastern Promises (2007), before going on to create the striking BBC period drama Peaky Blinders. He stepped behind the camera for 2013’s Hummingbird, which saw him coax Jason Statham into one of his strangest roles to date, and Locke marks his second directorial effort in quick succession.
Despite a neat premise, the heart of the story is uninvolving and tension is scraped out of the most humdrum conversations – chiefly involving cement. Tom Hardy – in one of his least showy headline roles to date – is compelling throughout, but the film is hamstrung by its own self-imposed constraints. Watchable throughout, Locke ultimately feels like an experimental short film stretched to breaking point, and ranks as a filmic footnote rather than a must-see drama.
In Killing Season (Lionsgate) world-weary Robert De Niro plays Benjamin Ford, a military veteran who retreats to a cabin in the Appalachian Mountains to try and forget his experience in the Bosnian War. After a chance encounter in the woods, the taciturn ex-soldier befriends a mysterious European tourist (John Travolta) who, after a boozy night of bonding, reveals that he is actually a Serbian soldier – out for revenge against the man who shot him in the back and left him for dead. What follows is a bloody, psychological game of warfare, which sees each man lose control.
Directed by the reliably average Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Ghost Rider), Killing Season is a turgid survival thriller that makes a hash of its laudable attempt to confront the ethical issues surrounding the legacy of genocide. With a number of jarringly gratuitous ‘torture-porn’-esque scenes scattered throughout the sluggish narrative, the tone of the film is badly uneven.
To his credit, Travolta throws himself into the ludicrous role of Emil with admirable gusto, but De Niro is extremely unconvincing as his bitter rival. 60-year-old Travolta can comfortably pass as a man ten years his junior, but 71-year-old De Niro frequently resembles a man ten years older, and the hard-fought cat and mouse game between the pair never really seems plausible. If you are after a gruelling tale of mountaintop heroism, watch Lone Survivor instead…