Review: The Night Comes for Us

Title: The Night Comes For Us
Rating
: TV-MA
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Starring: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Asha Kenyeri Bermudez
Runtime: 2 hr 1 min

What It Is: After saving a girl from a brutal massacre, a Triad enforcer gets hunted down by unrelenting waves of gang-members.

What We Think: With a title and premise like that, you’d have every right to expect a completely different movie from what it actually is. In fact, the film tries to sell you on something that could’ve been more emotionally complex and demanding early on — it opens with a gorgeously understated sequence of a little girl witnessing the demise of her entire family (along with the rest of her village) in a raid by the Triads. The girl, speechless, looks on as her mother races towards her. Gunshots are fired; her mother’s blood sprays powder-like on the humid Southeast Asian shore. Compelling stuff, but not an introduction you’d expect to one of the grossest, most unflinchingly indulgent action movies ever made.

Reversing expectations is almost like the film’s biggest insecurity: it’s actually not concerned with themes of revenge or comeuppance. It’s a story about a man who saves the little girl, wanting an out from a troubled, violent life. This man hasn’t been wronged, he just wants something he can’t have. It’s also a story about his brother and the conflicting loyalties he’s faced with. It’s also, also about the brutality of the Triad drug, arms, and human trafficking racket and how it’s slowly setting roots in Indonesia. It’s also, also, also about this one chick who’s a badass and appears literally halfway through the movie and her codename’s the Operator and… 

It’s all over the place. But the story’s just a distraction from the worthwhile — the blood, the gore, and the kick-in-the-teeth set pieces. The sound design is diabolical, with the hits and slashes sounding like biblical agony. The fight choreography is like a fever dream, and all the performances match this bar set. You can feel the film getting anxious in parts, just waiting to overwhelm you with its wild-eyed craziness.

It’s a shame, though, because, with a premise that’s rich enough to warrant an (admittedly cool) opening wall of text and lore, you’re merely given the notebook fan-fiction alternative to the story found in its opening minutes. But if the pace is breakneck enough, and the kills are clever enough, and the stakes are easy enough to follow, I’m a satisfied viewer. Just mind the viscera.

Our Grade: B, At the end of the day, this is a well-made action romp that doesn’t concern itself too much with making a point. It’s so obsessed with its own ideas, its notions of “wouldn’t it be cool if…”, that it accidentally starts what could have been an interesting and thought-provoking narrative. Don’t watch this if you’re looking for emotional resonance; come here if you’re looking to get desensitized. The numbing high hits you something fierce.

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Bobby Teh Written by: