The Night Comes For Us

3 out of 5

Directed by: Timo Tjahjanto

It’s easy to get swept up in the second hour of The Night Comes For Us’ expertly shot and choreographed brawls: its escalating brutality crosses a line into watch-through-your-fingers limb-sawing and blood-spurting, and the setups and interactions of these battles display endlessly (grisly) creativity; you are laughing at the over-the-topness of it all, while marveling at these stunt-people’s / actors’ abilities.

It’s not so easy to feel the same about the first hour, which takes constant breathers to try to plod through a brother-versus-brother setup for the fights – Ito (Joe Taslim) and Arian (Iko Urwais) are two leaders for the Triads, until the sight of a now-parentless lil’ lady (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez) sets Ito’s heart a’flutter for redemption – and then makes some unfortunate gaffs in its disaster-pieces that woefully ruin immersion.  Yes, sure, any flick which piles bullets and stabwounds into people who keeps on fighting aren’t held to a rigorous sense of reality, but director / writer Timo Tjahjanto aims for huge pile-on sequences of intensity early on, then keeps too many waiting people in frame to properly sell that intensity, while having bullet dodges happen behind wooden objects or a billion rapid-fire weapons completely miss the scene’s hero.  This stuff is fine if that’s the general tone, but the silliness of it is juxtaposed with a lot of stab-stab bloodshed, and something about the mix makes the fights seem sloppy, stakeless, and, oddly, boring.

When the film pares down its take-on-everybody vendetta to Ito vs. Arian – which takes up that latter half – suddenly everything comes in to better focus, with each interaction one-upping the previous in an entertaining fashion.

The excessive run time (I appreciate there being a story, but we all know why we’re here…) and sense of indecisiveness in the way the first half is handled drag The Night Comes For Us down, but the sudden perfection of what follows makes this Raid-adjacent flick a worthwhile fight fest.

 

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