There is skepticism when it comes to film sequels because of the belief that it would never be better than the first one. It can only be seen as the extended story that we’re already familiar with. Polis Evo 2 starring Zizan Razak and Shaheizy Sam not only grounds down this notion but becomes a dynamic movie on the Malaysian police force battling against terrorism and drug trafficking. This review is spoiler-free.
War on Terrorism
Crime thrillers are often associated with the noir genre tapered to shocking yet trivial cases such as murders in small towns however, Polis Evo 2 went for a larger scale of illegality by capturing the dangers of religious extremism rooted on terrorism and drugs.
It’s quite daring from the minds of duo directors, Joel Soh and Andre Chiew to portray this major issue that in real life have been the battle taken on by the Malaysian authorities though, the premise did risk the sequel to being boycotted on the view that it is anti-Islamic. Not only is this a valiant route of giving a distinct perspective on Malaysia’s most treacherous offence, it also opens up the table to discussing controversial matters.
The obvious villain, Hafsyam is the cultist figure who promises Eden for his loyal followers and he’s undoubtedly charismatic with his words (credited to the performance of Hasnul Rahmat) as he coolly delivers his orders even when he barked about how women shouldn’t be in the position of leadership during a phone call to the head of the operation in Pulau Cherong, SAC Dato’ Azizat (the exceptional Erra Fazira). Still, he won’t hesitate when it comes to committing violence against the innocents thus, further depicts that this is not a cartoonish character stylised with an evil laugh but a deadly threat to the safety of the villagers on the remote island who were kidnapped as hostages.
More Than an Adrenaline Ride
The film’s use of cinematography and editing distanced itself from making a spectacle of its action scenes in fact, the violence is rendered in its true gritty actuality. Close-ups of a knife stabbing into a man’s body, sticky blood dripping from open wounds and chiefly the aftermath of combat seen from piles of corpses and the trauma faced by the police members themselves make Polis Evo 2 more than a “commercially fun” action movie.
It’s actually surprising that slow-motion shots are not used to picture the fight happening on screen because of the option to employ close-ups on guns and the characters’ facial expression during attacks which create an intimate and almost claustrophobic sensation from watching the violence unfold. On this aspect, Polis Evo 2 would come close to the intense, unapologetic and stout characterisation of the wars in the Middle East through the scope of Western Cinema.
Storytelling Through The Camera
Hand-held cameras are often utilised to manifest the perception that the audience are there with the characters in film especially during critical action scenes and Polis Evo 2 is not immune to the trend. “Running” from tear gasses released by the terrorist group and loud, fiery explosions is the camera personified nevertheless, the film knows when to also fixate the lens so there is a calmness to the drama especially focusing on Hafsyam who is astoundingly collected even when he’s unleashing chaos.
With establishing shots, the film doesn’t pride itself for having beautiful cinematography based on the amount of drone shots taken but there is intuition to play with sentiments by documenting the characters at their lowest point through widening the screen to make the characters appear small and meek. Cinematographer, Tan Teck Zee also applied the conflicting colours of blue, orange and red in the night-time scenes and brightening the light orange hue for daylight to detail the movements of the characters in darkness and under the blazing sun.
Polis Evo 2 is a worthy inclusion into the list of memorable crime thrillers in cinematic history for both local and international productions by taking into account that cops in films are not untouchable superheroes but are people trained to protect and serve (and also signifying the role of women in the field with Rian, an Indonesian National Police agent played by Raline Shah who front-lined many of the action sequences).
Nonetheless the sequel is not resistant from the clutches of the convenient deus ex-machina in the third act and a questionable insertion of a soundtrack in a climatic scene (almost has the likeness to the ludicrous The O.C. series finale’s incorporation of the song Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap).
With the many great local productions this year, Polis Evo 2 should be the terminal movie experience of 2018 so catch it while you still can in cinemas now!
Featured Image source: Star 2.