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Review The Night Comes for Us (2018): Incredibly stupid action flick!

genre: action, martial arts, crime

Perhaps I should give a little background on myself to prevent people from dismissing what I have to say. I have been watching and loving action films since I was three. Currently am in my forties so it's safe to say that has been a long time. In all this time I have seen and appreciated all kinds except the bad ones of course. Now one could say that opinions on films are subjective and yes of course that is true to an extent. However that doesn't mean that these films can forsake the basic rules of film making. Naturally you have genre films that are focused on one element more in favour of for example action and spectacle. But even those have well constructed narratives no matter how simple. The Night Comes for Us doesn't have one for starters. 

It basically is a collection of over the top violent and gory action sequences glued together in something that has to go for story. A former gang member now part of the Triad has saved a little girl from being killed. Mind you someone who had no problem killing all of the other in this village. Suddenly he grows a conscience and decided there and then to defy the orders he was given. Naturally this doesn't go so well and the Triad go out of their way to deal with him and whomever aids out main character. His name is Ito and played by Joe Taslim. One of the people having to go against him is his friend Arian played by Iko Uwais. I know if you read this you might get the impression that this is compelling stuff. It could have been. But it wasn't. Because this little story is all there is and is used as an excuse for all the violence displayed on the screen. Now I don't mind violence. Bloody, gory, it's all fine with me. However there are three little conventions this violent action needs to abide by. 

  • It needs to have a purpose. 
  • It needs to be exhilarating or exciting. 
  • It needs to be entertaining 

As much as I can appreciate the work and choreography that went into this production I can't overlook the fact that I found the result to be exhausting and boring. You are basically watching the same action sequence over and over without very little variation and context. There is no narrative that requires the action to be the way it is. Most of the characters are bullet and knife sponges who walk with ease after they got hit. It really takes a long time for people to die in this flick except some generic goons. I am sure that someone who reads this says that all martial arts films basically are all alike. If you strip them down to the core then yes you might be right. However here is where the other elements of film making come in. Like for example humour. I don't care what kind of film you make there has to be a balance of humour and seriousness. The minute you go full comedy or fully serious you run the chance of losing your audience. Depending on the subject of course. In this case there is no humour whatsoever. Even when many of the events are laughable everything has to be taken seriously. Because the director and the actors demand this. There isn't a single one who cracks jokes. Unless you count the two lesbian assassins as one running joke. Their whole demeanour was other worldly for sure but comedic? Few days ago I had seen Jailbreak where at the oddest times characters were cracking jokes. I didn't entirely appreciate this until now. Because in hindsight that exactly might have been one of the elements that makes it entertaining. At least it gave you some variation. 

Probably one of you now saying that there was a balance between action and drama. And if the acting and story had compelled me to be invested in the events and characters I would have agreed. But the dramatic elements are so minimal that they don't have any impact whatsoever. You don't know any of the characters and the little you do learn is hardly to get all excited about. So Ito and Arian are friends. So what? They are never shown how they were as friends. Just stating that they are isn't enough. You have to establish their bond a little more elaborately so that you can understand what it has become. That is what makes it so tragic. As a result their battle could and would have been the highlight. Now it's just one drawn out ultra violent action scene very similar to the ones you saw before this one. 

Then the ending. You can tell that the people involved must have had the impression that they were making a masterpiece because next to the over the top violence they refuse to give you a good ending. It needs to be dark, depressing and cynical. Worse it leaves you with very little to no point. They make you sit and watch this thing for two hours and then decide you don't deserve a satisfying ending. I am very certain that they must have thought that going against convention is what makes this film so brilliant in their minds. No, it just infuriates people like me who can cut through all the BS and sees for what this really is. STUPID! INCREDIBLY STUPID! It's one thing to be pretentious. You do have to back that up with something substantial. And there is none of it. Writer / director Timo Tjahjanto showed a much better understanding of basic film making in the short Safe Haven (V/H/S 2) He managed to balance out action, horror, drama, suspense and dread in a way that was absolutely compelling and terrifying. I can't believe he is the same guy who made The Night Comes for Us.

I was very willing to give this a chance. While I was critical of The Raid films I did appreciate them as action films. This latest outing is what happens when you are starting to believe all the praise and ignore valid criticism and film conventions. I am shocked to see how many people are making this out to be one of the best if not the best action film ever made. Are you kidding me? That takes away from real good action masterpieces. I am not even sure if you could call this a film.    

BTW this is not a true Netflix original as it is not produced by them they only distributed the damn thing. 

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