THE NIGHT COMES FOR US

Whenever a movie comes out that a lot of people describe as “non-stop action”, they’re usually exaggerating. There’s certainly some action throughout, but it rarely ever meets the definition of “non-stop”, as the pace is usually broken up by dialogue and plot developments. The dialogue and plot can be either good or bad, but for a lot of action films, they’re usually not too great and are overly simplistic. So, you better make sure your action is good enough to sustain the rest of the runtime. 

In The Night Comes for Us, Ito (Joe Taslim) is a gang member working for the Triads in Indonesia, having just taken part in the massacre of a village. Seeing the horrors he’s taken part in against innocent people, he has a change of heart, kills his fellow members, and saves a young girl; the lone survivor of the village. This unsurprisingly angers the rest of the Triad gang, who sends everybody they can to kill Ito and the child. One of those men is Arian (Iko Uwais), Ito’s old confidant, who is forced to show his allegiance to the Triads and hunt down and kill his old friend.

Ever since The Raid 2: Berandal in 2014, I’ve been awaiting the next installment in the franchise. Well, that third installment is never going to come as writer/director Gareth Evans has moved onto other projects. Luckily for all of us, we have The Mo Brothers, an Indonesian filmmaking team known for their gory horror films. They broke into the action sector with Headshot last year, which had excellent fight scenes, but lacked that breakneck pace and strong story that the Raid films were known for. Here, Timo Tjahjanto, one half of The Mo Brothers, goes it solo with the writing and directing duties of The Night Comes for Us. Just like Headshot, the plot and characters are incredibly standard and cliché. No more than mere vehicles to go from one crazy fight scene to the next. The Night Comes for Us seems even less plot oriented. It’s really as simple as Ito and the girl running from the Triads and trying to survive. There are some brief scenes of character and plot development, but the film is so action oriented that all of those things take a seat at the very back of the bus. Ito’s pursuit to protect the girl is supposed to be the main heart of the movie, but to be honest, I often forgot her character was even there throughout all of the chaos.

Where the film all counts is in the action department. The violence and gore is absolutely obscene in their over the top nature, with Ito and our other progragonists killing off their opponets in the most ridiculously violent, creative, and even humourous ways. What I loved about the fights in Headshot is that they used their environment to great effect, having the fighters grab and fight with random objects. That’s all turned up to the 1,000,000,000 here. A fight in a butcher shop? Well, you gotta have people getting impaled with bones and beat with cow legs. A fight in a mess hall with pool tables? You know somebody’s just going to get whapped with a pool cue or take an 8-ball to the face. The violence is just INSANE, that even spelling the word in caps, bold, and italics is still an understatement. Whenever I thought it couldn’t get more violent, it proved me wrong when yet another hapless goon met their painful end. Aside from some obvious CG blood spatter here and there, the gore effects are outstanding, Tjahjanto using his horror background to excellent effect.

While the fights lacked any sort of emotional connection due to the weak story, the sheer amount of extreme violence always made the fights feel incredibly visceral and intense. The amount of punishment the characters take in the film is just absurd, but the film doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It’s very self-aware in how trashy it is, down the side characters and plot structure that feels ripped right out of a video game. After Ito takes down a gang of thugs, it’s on to the next objective where he has to take down more people. The fights get harder and more dangerous, with more formidable opponents with their own distinct personalities. Every actor involved, particularly Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, and Julie Estelle, are all clearly experts in their fighting crafts, so we get all of the beautiful stuntwork and choreography without a bunch of shaky camerawork and frantic editing. It’s nice that they’re all actually decent actors too and give their thinly written characters a lot of personality. Tjahjanto executes the simple premise perfectly just using a clear sense of escalation and urgency. You never know what could be around the next corner, and save for one short bit in the middle where Ito and the girl have a heart to heart scene, the action really does meet the definition of “non-stop”. The stellar synth score just further added to that rushed, tense feeling. 

The Night Comes for Us does wear out its welcome a bit near the end of its 120-minute runtime because it’s just so much, but when it’s all over, you feel just like the characters do: completely out of breath and exasperated. This is an endurance run of an action film that grabs you by the collar and punches you in the face repeatedly until those end credits start rolling. You’re not going to get anything out of the story or characters, but if you want an absurdly copious serving of blood, gore, action, and extreme ultraviolence, all beautifully photographed with excellent stuntwork, then look no further than this. It’s some of the most entertaining schlock I’ve seen in quite some time.

9/10

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