The Night Comes For Us is a jaw-dropping orgy of hyperviolent, well-choreographed action mayhem.
In 2012 and 2014, The Raid and its sequel were thrown to the action-starved masses like thick, bloody steaks to a pack of ravenous wolves. The Raid was a lean, laser-focused, almost non-stop barrage of cleverly-assembled action setpieces. The Raid 2, while overblown and perhaps too ambitious, upped the production value everywhere and provided even more impressive spectacle. If you've ever talked to me about action films, and how disappointing a lot of them are, you've probably heard me say something along the lines of "there’s no excuse for _____ in a post-Raid world." And now, friends, I am pleased to report that the first non-Raid movie to out-Raid The Raid has arrived. The Night Comes For Us has come for us, hands full of sharp and/or explosive objects used for fucking up human bodies in ways you never thought possible.
While writer/director Timo Tjahjanto has no ties to Gareth Evans, they clearly both drank from the same Indonesian waters. Action scenes are deftly directed with lots of wide lenses, capturing the brutality up close like we were right there. You’ll find no shaky cam or rapid fire editing here, just talented stuntpeople performing calculated feats of stylish human destruction, captured with an active and energetic camera. Tjahjanto gives audiences the best seat in the house every time, and it makes the film breathlessly fun to watch.
The story is right in line with these types of movies. Triads, double crossing, redemption, it’s all here. It’s a bit threadbare, and part of me wishes it was more focused, but it never gets too unwieldy. The A-story has all the trajectory we need, and it moves things along at a good pace. It’s kinda structured like a slasher film, with the Triads serving as a constant threat that’s always lurking around the corner ready to put our heroes in danger.
But we’re not here for the story. We’re here to watch a bunch of stuntmen brawl with machetes, and on this front, the film delivers in buckets. The Raid's Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim reunite as the two leads, and are joined by a sizable assortment of other ass-kickers throughout. While the fights in The Raid 2 have better production value, the amount of fighting and brutality in The Night Comes for Us is unmatched. I honestly can't think of a film that's more violent than this, between its body count and the frequent and savage ends the bodies meet.
Following the example set by The Raids, The Night Comes For Us combines impressive fight choreography with practical gore effects. I genuinely don't know how they pull this shit off. Not only are they only performing a complicated and intense fight scene, but they're doing it with convincing gore effects that make the fights incredibly visceral. It's a rare and very welcome bit of practical movie magic in an age where "fix it in post" is increasingly becoming a mandate rather than a last ditch effort.
This film jumps from one exhaustive setpiece to the next, and while some of these sequences carry on for longer than you'd expect, they never grow tiring or repetitive. Locations are utilized in clever ways, keeping the scenes fresh even within confined spaces like the back of van. Funky camera techniques are deployed sparingly to keep things interesting, including a particularly inspired use of the Snorricam later in the film. Everything culminates with a truly spectacular final battle that firmly plants this film high on the action mantle.
There's so much to love here. Action fans are going to lap this up like pigs at a 5-star trough. The film is essentially a spiritual Raid 3, taking the best elements of its predecessors and making something that sits confidently alongside them. While it wears its influences heavily on its blood-soaked sleeve, it does so with such skill, energy, and pure filmmaking excitement that it's hard to fault it. It doesn't change the game the way those films did, but by focusing on what made them so great, it elevates the genre and throws the gauntlet down to everyone else. Time to step it up!