"I'll just get my gear."

Don’t Breathe 2

Your mileage may vary, but I loved DON’T BREATHE, director Fede Alvarez’s followup to his EVIL DEAD remake, once again produced by Sam Raimi. It was a hit at the time, and they talked about a sequel, but Alvarez was getting bigger offers, like THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB. Which I also liked, but it didn’t really catch on. Now five years have passed, and I haven’t noticed DON’T BREATHE turning into a big thing, but we finally got that sequel, written and produced by Alvarez and directed by his usual co-writer Rodo Sayagues, in his directing debut. Hey, I’ll take it!

Stephen Lang (MANHUNTER, HOSTILES) returns as “The Blind Man,” or Norman Nordstrom as he is apparently named. He’s a Gulf War vet who lives in a rickety house in a largely abandoned area of Detroit with a rottweiler named Shadow and a young girl named Phoenix (Madelyn Grace, 2 episodes of Z-Nation). He home schools her, trains her in survival tactics, and only rarely allows her to go into town with his Army Ranger friend Hernandez (Stephanie Arcila, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels).

Phoenix calls him Dad, and we have to wonder what’s up here because we’ve seen part 1. In that one he was a victim of home invaders and went uncomfortably far in exacting his vengeance on them, then he was revealed to (SPOILER FOR THE FUCKED UP TWIST IN PART 1) have the woman who killed his daughter in a hit-and-run accident imprisoned in his basement, pregnant with a “replacement.” So there are many reasons for concern here.

Part 1 was playful in the way it had a group of scumbags doing an unconscionable thing as the protagonists, gave some of them better reasons for their sins and some of them reasons to be rooted against. Part 2 makes it feel less scummy by giving us Phoenix, a complete innocent, to root for. Don’t worry, there’s not some twist where she turns out to be a Nazi or something. She’s a nice girl caught in the war between the psycho villain of part 1 and a band of dishonorably discharged combat veterans turned active members of the Detroit creep community. They first meet Phoenix in a filthy public restroom, follow her home home and break into the house at night to kidnap her, unaware of the trouble this will bring them. One guy called Duke (Rocci Williams, ANGEL HAS FALLEN, WRATH OF MAN) looks like Chris Hemsworth in a leather vest with a skull on the back. Another one, Jim Bob (Adam Young, 6 episodes of EastEnders), is a weaselly snake with pretty much a Boz cut (stripes and everything). They have the ideal LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT meets DEATH SENTENCE sliminess for someone you want to see get horribly fucked up by improvised weapons while hunting a little girl.

I don’t think Sayagues ever reaches Alvarez’s DePalma-in-Hell suspense sequence mastery, but he does an admirable job of at least giving it a shot, particularly in a sequence following Phoenix as she sneaks beneath different furniture and from room to room, listening to footsteps on the creaky wooden floors to evade two different pursuers.

This is a world of desperate people – survivors of wars, victims of economic collapse, people willing to hurt others (selling meth, stealing, killing) for themselves or their loved ones. In the first film our protagonist Rocky stole from the Blind Man because she wanted to get her abused sister to the safety and promise of sunny California. For Phoenix the dream future is not escaping to some paradise, but a homeless shelter where she would get to play with other children. She spotted it from the playground, a place of escape that’s not in much better shape than the rathole apartments and dusty basements most of the movie takes place in.

At least one character in this crumbling hellscape has some amount of honor; others fight for clearly selfish emotional reasons they believe are just, but must know deep down don’t stand up to scrutiny. The Blind Man is mirrored by the other lead villain, Raylan, who I did not recognize as Brendan Sexton III (WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, BOYS DON’T CRY, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, THREE BILLBOARDS). He was always so good as a young actor and he’s still great now that he looks like Thomas Jane. He’s a good villain – so gross and creepy, and then since this is a DON’T BREATHE movie you find out some information that makes the situation more complicated than you realized.

There’s a podcast called The Boo Crew, I assume it must come from a radio broadcast, because the whole vibe is about ten times too Morning Zoo Crew for me, but credit where credit is due, they did a recent episode with Alvarez and Sayagues, and Alvarez had a good way of describing this aspect of the movies:

“It’s really us always fucking with the audience, trying to take you from one side to another, and show you that life is complex, and maybe hopefully make you feel that sometimes when you judge someone you might not have all the information to really judge that person, and sometimes when you love someone you might not know some dirty secret that motherfucker has, and you’re loving the wrong person.”

The Blind Man and Raylan are both veterans, both owners of vicious attack dogs, both fathers to Phoenix in troubling ways, both (SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH) blind by the end. But psychotic blind man #1 is more honorable in the specific matter of respect for animals. He weeps at the death of Shadow, and then at the possibility of having to shoot Raylan’s dog to defend himself. Raylan sets the house on fire even after Raul (Christian Zagia) reminds him his own dog is still inside, a violation that starts to turn Raul against him. The Blind Man saves Raylan’s dog from the fire, and is rewarded with his friendship (and a way to find Raylan).

(By the way, I didn’t realize Raul was the fence who told part 1’s thieves about the blind man with the cash settlement ripe for stealing. I like that he connects these two groups of doomed criminals.)

I love seeing Lang, always such a dependable character actor, just pouring himself into the role of… the psycho killer in a kinda disreputable horror sequel. There’s obviously a huge physical component to the performance – he wears contacts that make him unable to see, and has the physique and deadly movements of this aging Navy SEAL who’s lost his mind. But also there’s a really layered character – the fragile, sad voice, the desperation of the controlling pseudo-father who knows he’s a monster, but tries to hold on to the phony life he’s built through illicit means. There are moments when Hernandez (who definitely seems unaware of what he’s been up to) tries to talk him into giving Phoenix more freedom, and actually gets through to him.

(It’s not jokey, but kinda funny when Hernandez says he thinks he’s “a bad man who has done bad things” because of his experiences in the war. Lady, you have no idea.)

I know some people didn’t like that the trailer seemed to treat the Blind Man as an action hero, despite his activities in the first film. I think that would actually be a pretty cool statement about action heroes, but of course that’s not what this is. Still, I imagine some people will be bothered that the movie treats him as a tragic villain, a broken person worthy of pity, if not sympathy, once he’s admitted his sins. I think it’s a surprisingly humane approach for a horror movie, especially one that wallows in so much gloom. But I don’t think it’s asking us to forgive him or consider him redeemed. That (SPOILER) Phoenix seems to care for him after knowing the truth is part of her own tragedy, it doesn’t make him a good guy. If called upon for a part 3 I am confident he will find new and innovative ways to be way out of line.

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2021 at 9:59 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

33 Responses to “Don’t Breathe 2”

  1. I really can’t understand why people get so hung up on The Blind Man being more of a protagonist this time around. I want to grab these people by the shoulders and yell “Depiction does not mean Endorsement” at them, until they finally get it.

    Anyway, I’m very glad to hear that this is a worthy sequel. The first Don’t Breathe is one of the best horror movies of it’s decade and if Fede Alvarez can keep up this level of quality for 2-3 more movies, he’ll be more than worthy to join the ranks of the Masters of Horror.

  2. There seems to be a lot of horror fans these days who think the genre’s job is to, like, teach them about important moral lessons or something. Not even teach them. That would imply a level of humility such scolds lack. They think the genre’s job is to AGREE with them about lessons they’ve already learned. They have no interest in exploring their own dark side or simply staring into the heart of darkness. They demand a moral. Some Aesop’s fables shit. I don’t get it.

  3. I don’t relate to it either, and it’s a little frustrating, but my theory is that it’s a side effect of horror fandom having – through the internet, Netflix, podcasts and other means – spread outside of its niche to new demographics and/or a new generation raised with different attitudes than the last. It used to be that if DR. BUTCHER M.D. or whatever offended you then fuck you, you’re not a real horror fan, go away. Now I think there’s more room for a million little sub-sub-subcultures that are into their specific thing and some of them may be sensitive people who can’t imagine why anybody would be okay with a movie where something fucked up happens to the person you’re rooting for, or the person you’re rooting for does a fucked up thing, or there’s nobody any reasonable person should be rooting for.

    I think they’re missing out, but if this is the doomsday scenario that all those elitist grumps feared when they said SCREAM or fill-in-the-blank wasn’t real horror then they were being as silly as it seemed like at the time. There will always be people who can’t take heavy duty horror, but good for them if it doesn’t prevent them from thinking Stephen King rules or watching FEAR STREET or whatever.

  4. Given the way the MCU has maddeningly featured slave traders and mass torturers (and Loki) as heroes, with barely a slap on the wrist for their monstrous behavior, I suppose I should be relieved that there’s a backlash, however mild, to the Blind Man becoming an action hero protagonist. And this movie does basically treat him as Jason circa Freddy Vs.–the monster that you can root for because at least he’s not a fucking douche. But as much as I appreciate that they retained some self-awareness and didn’t end things with BM going to Disneyworld with his found family, [SSSSSSPOILERS] I think his final redemption rang false. As I read it, he goes into the third act solely wanting to get Phoenix back, not caring that she’s with her biological family now–she’s his and he’s not letting go of her. He goes to their hideout, kills four people, THEN finds out the game plan is to Frankenstein her. After which, he saves her, but now realizes that the right thing to do is give her up because he’s too much of a bastard to be a good father to her, et al et al. And I like that he came to that realization, actually gave up the thing that’s been his endgame this whole time, and suffered some (sequel-pending) consequences for his actions. But I still think they didn’t stick the landing of what led him to realize he’s a monster, after something like ten years of living the life. It seemed to come a little out of nowhere because it’s time for the story to end, so his character arc needed to wrap up. But they needed that home stretch of him facing the cold hard truth for the story to really hit, not more scenes of him craftily using his disability to murk people.

  5. I just watched the first FEAR STREET and when I was trying to describe my discontent to a friend I said it was like a theme park about horror movies, rather than an actual horror movie.

  6. Let’s be honest, people aren’t saying “Oh no, the bad guy from part 1 is now the hero! That’s not political correct, we want our heroes to be squeaky clean boyscouts!”, it’s “Why the fuck are they trying to make us root for a rapist?”. It’s that little detail that pushes many people over the edge. And I do admit it’s kinda understandable. In the post-Weinstein era it’s a bit tone deaf to say: “What he did in part 1 isn’t who he really is. His actions don’t reflect his true self.”

  7. There with you, Maggie re: FEAR STREET. It had likeable elements, and I wanted to like it, but I ultimately just couldn’t connect. I didn’t watch PART III, but I did finish PART 1 and PART 2. The latter was a lot like AMERICAN HORROR STORY 1984, which I also couldn’t finish. Pretty good production values and various individual cute/fun elements, but ultimately too fast-paced (I know, huh?) and all over the place. Fast, fairly action-packed, but somehow also overlong, melodramatic, and too talky. Kind of a bunch of horror movies with decent budgets all thrown into a blender, which sounds better than it is.

    Moreover, because all of it keeps referencing this some deeper mythology, it tends to undercut the individual stories, making them almost like video game levels before you get to the final boss or something. A set of individual films that are very ADHD, strung together as an ouroboros universe/mythology of individual films that play like, frenetic, overlong anthology episodes.

  8. I definitely got an “uh-oh” feeling from the trailer. As a life-long horror fan, there’s a lot that I struggle with and question in the genre, which overall I consider a net positive because that’s kind of the point of art, right? I can shrug off all kinds of horrible racism and sexism and homophobia and other awfulness in 70s and 80s movies that I love, but alarm bells go off when I see that stuff being used in some modern movies when it feels like it might be due to laziness or indifference (or just a desire to T2 Stephen Lang). I’ll see this movie eventually and decide for myself, but I certainly understand where people are coming from if they don’t want to see this particular character getting an anti-hero makeover right now.

  9. People are of course free to object to whatever they want to. The reason I disagree is that if they had made a movie where they just don’t address what happened in part 1 and pretend like he’s an action hero, that in itself would be a statement because WE remember part 1. That his fighting skills are explained by his military past and that he’s underestimated because of his blindness and that some motherfuckers broke into the wrong house and pay for it are already elements of an action/vigilante/revenge type story. For part 2 to pull a RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II and just act like everything is cool with this maniac because he kills the right people would be a hell of a way to make us reflect on our innate ability to root for violence even though we know it’s wrong, among other things.

    But of course that’s not the movie they made, and what they did make may still bother those people, which I suppose is the danger of including something like that in a horror movie in the first place. It was a hell of a shocked disbelief “are they really going there?” moment to experience in a crowd, but it does prevent me from recommending it to some people, and I don’t like those Boo Crew guys with their “ha ha, turkey baster” stuff. I suppose this is why they didn’t make EVIL DEAD 2 about that same tree from part 1.

  10. Really, Vern? I heard the tree wanted way too much money to appear in part 2.

  11. The movie sort of eventually gets around to addressing the fact that this guy is a monster, but it does a really bad job of it. If part of the fun here is to see a terrible guy go up against people who are even worse, they should have actually presented his terribleness early on, instead of just sort of obliquely referring to it in dialogue. Even the worst thing he does during the movie (abduct a child) is sort of retroactively forgiven because it turns out he took the child away from a horrible situation.

    Actually, the way all of that is handled is super weird. If you’ve seen the first movie, then you understand right away that this isn’t his kid. But they treat that revelation, deep into the film, like it’s some sort of plot twist. It’s like they forgot the premise of the original movie until they were halfway through the writing the screenplay.

    Honestly I think they probably just chickened out on the edgier version of this premise and tried to hedge in a bunch of ways that don’t work. They want to audience to be on Lang’s side, so they can’t actually show him do anything terrible, but they also know they have to at least nod their head towards it.

  12. To clarify, my issue with the “X movie is problematic” crowd isn’t that I don’t consider them to be “real horror fans” or that I disagree with their decision to dislike a movie. Other commenters here have raised their objections in a reasonable way and I have nothing to disagree with there, it’s their choice to make.

    Elsewhere however, the complaints about X movie being problematic often come with the implications that 1. The filmmakers are bad people because they made it that way and 2. I am a bad person for enjoying the movie anyway. Sometimes it feels like a repeat of the dumb “torture porn” debate we had 15 years ago. Vern’s review is one of the few reviews I’ve seen online, that actually tries to understand why Sayagues/Alvarez went down that route. Many reviewers/commenters immediately jump to the conclusion that it must be because Sayagues/Alvarez just don’t think that rape is that bad.

    I agree that this type of attitude is probably a consequence of horror becoming more mainstream. Many people seem to think that the main purpose of art is to get us to reflect on our various types of bad/toxic behaviour. My pet theory is that this style of thinking comes from people who spent most of their time consuing media trying to convince themselves that consuming the “right” type of media can be a meaningful moral act. People want to convince themselves that watching a movie with strong, well-written female leads counts as meaningful feminist activism/praxis, or that watching Cobra Kai (or anything else with a more nuanced/modern take on masculinity) will somehow result in there being less toxic masculinity in the real world.

  13. If Alvarez and Sayagues said that “his actions don’t reflect his true self” in regards to the events of part 1… hoo boy. I was gonna assume that even after the second film in a row where rape is used as what amounts to a narrative shortcut(“get to the demons killing everyone!” “make the heroes more sympathetic!”), they still might have had an inkling as to the gravity that the topic holds. But between EVIL DEAD and DON’T BREATHE, I genuinely feel that, okay, they know rape is bad, but maybe they don’t realize HOW bad it comes off.

  14. Ya know what? Fuck it. I said nothing. If this were some wild exploitation flick from the late ’70s/early ’80s making a rapist the protagonist, I’m realizing I probably wouldn’t bat an eye now. I dunno why it comes off worse here, or why it should.

  15. I think a lot of the premise here is just good sequel craftsmanship. Sam Raimi and co asking themselves “okay, how do we keep this from being Don’t Breathe 2: Mo’ Turkey, Mo’ Basters?” They look at his endgame–having a new daughter–and come to the obvious conclusion that a guy this crafty would find a less roundabout way to get what he wants than kidnapping and holding someone captive for nine months. Okay, now he has a child, he’s gotten what he wanted… where does the character go from there? It’s a way more interesting way to make a follow-up than just sending more semi-sympathetic crooks to break into his place.

  16. Andrew: No they never used these words, as far as I know, but I do think it really was bad timing to come up with such a plot device.

    There has been a huge cultural shift in the last few years. It’s not just #MeToo, we also had Trump and all the human cesspools he enabled. Cops getting away with killing unarmed, mostly black citizens over and over. Rich white asshole kids getting big interviews where they paint themself as tragic victims of bEiNg CaNcElLeD although they are actually really good people, after they were filmed mocking and threatening Native American protesters. People are just sick of seing the bad guys win and being forcefed half-assed apologies for being horrible.

    Up until less than 10 years ago, when anti-heroes were all the rage and tested audiences’ will to sympathize with Walter White, Vic Mackey and co as long as possible, something like this would’ve been celebrated as a brave storytelling choice with most likely very little controversy outside of the usual outragebait corners of the internet, but you really can’t blame the people of 2021 for being turned off by being asked to feel sympathy for the psychopath who used a a turkey baster in horrifying ways or the evil hag who was ready to kill a shit ton of puppies because she wanted to look fabulous, simply because they shoehorn some redemption arcs and explanations in, long after we learned that they are clearly monsters.

    I’m really not saying we should go back to the squeaky clean, square jawed hero who can’t do no wrong and I neither judge anybody for making* or enjoying these movies, but y’know, I do think the people who greenlit them kinda failed to read the room.

    *as long as it doesn’t come from a place of misguided edginess or pure douchebaggery

  17. I think both CJ and Jugo are onto some things.

    One thing is that we tend to conflate ideas of individual people changing (persuading the same population to see things differently) vs. societies changing due to generational turnover (Gen z becoming adults and the silent and now boomer generations dying out). There are various formal terms for this kind of stuff, such as ecological fallacy, composition fallacy, simpson’s paradox. This happens in a lot of the political discussion or cultural discussion, where we imagine that a lot of change is individual people having their minds opened, when a lot of it is just that the composition of the adult population is changing, with earlier generations dying off.

    The other thing is that we mistakenly treat online commenters and talking heads (whether professional, quasi-professional, or recreational talking heads) as if they are representative of the broader population at large, when clearly they are not. So, yes, people commenting online are often reflecting more social justice-progressive views, but a lot of that has to do with more opinionated folks commenting more aggressively and stridently and with younger and more educated / privileged people being disproportionately represented among those progressive voices.

    Which is all to say that we should not be too quick to attribute these views to actual changes in peoples’ minds, so much as it is generational shift and the fact that the progressives who are most active and adept in commenting online are not at all representative of what the average person — even the average Democrat (in the US) thinks.

    To connect this to CJ’s point, I don’t think it’s as simple as imagining that people at large are sink of seeing bad guys in general or bad white guys in particular win. I think it’s more variegated than that, at least in the US. Most people in the US are socially and culturally moderate or uninterested in politics. They think the George Floyd thing was bad, they generally support voter id laws (I don’t, but most do), they are still figuring out how they feel about trans issues (still net conservative, but moderating), they are cynical about corporate woke-ism, they believe in God, they think social security checks are important, they net-oppose but are moderating on basic income, they strongly oppose affirmative action, they are pro-gay rights. The idea that the median person out there is outraged about a lot of this stuff or viewing things through a progressive political lens is wrong. Some people are really outraged and quick to become outraged about all manner of things, and you just hear a lot from them, so, it’s easy to get fooled into thinking that is somehow a valid representation of how most people feel.

    So, in terms of reading the room, I think it really depends on what room we’re trying to read.

  18. Once again, I must say, that that’s not what this movie is. They treat him as more of a human being than you might expect, but they don’t “ask you to feel sympathy for the psychopath” or give him “a redemption arc.” They just layer the villains with different amounts of tragic past and not-knowingly-evil intentions to make them interesting and keep you on your toes, just as they did in the first film, or as is tradition in horror movies from FRANKENSTEIN to CANDYMAN.

  19. Believe it or not, but I got that, but speaking English only as a second language, in combination with the extremely high bar that is set by the comments on this sight, leads to me often overthinking what I wanna say, to the point where I keep forgetting what I actually want to say. In that case I was so focused on the possible reason for the sudden outrage of a movie like this or CRUELLA, that I didn’t mention that I was more talking about people’s reaction to how the movie is sold to them and in conclusion I just shut the fuck up and should have less long winded discussion anyway.

  20. No – don’t shut the fuck up. Sorry. I understand what you meant now. I guess I’m sensitive about it because it reminds me of that WOLF OF WALL STREET thing where I feel like some people are asking for a movie I like to be dumbed down for somebody else who’s not gonna like it anyway. Not that the movies are very similar, but in both cases the moral queasiness of just presenting a bad person doing what they do is a strength of the storytelling, and the more straight up explicitly-telling-you-how-to-feel-about-it version some people seem to be asking for just would not be as good of a movie. Go ahead, enjoy your more comforting movies, but don’t come for my good shit.

    And also in both cases I feel a little personally insulted that the argument seems to be assuming I, a fan of the movie, can’t be trusted to identify the immorality myself and will just assume every character in the movie is a good role model.

    (Not personally insulted by you – I understand that you are not making that argument.)

  21. All good, it’s kind of a touchy topic for everybody, I guess.

  22. I disagree that the movie doesn’t give him a redemption arc. He explicitly states at the end that his relationship with the girl “saved” him.

  23. I don’t remember what he said, but I certainly didn’t feel like he was redeemed or that the movie wanted me to think he was redeemed. And (SPOILER) after the credits they play scary music when the dog licks his hand as if he might still be alive.

  24. I will say that just from a personal standpoint I find the character to be reprehensible enough that it’s simply no fun, and I have no desire to see a movie which puts me in a position to root for him, even as a deliberately flawed anti-hero. Whether he’s redeemed or not, whether the movie acknowledges his flaws or not, he’s simply not a character I would enjoy as a protagonist, and none of this is even close to realistic or thoughtful enough for me to find it challenging or provocative in an interesting way. I think it’s partially a tonal thing; the tone is too serious for me to accept that this is good, irresponsible fun and too silly to take seriously (i.e. any number of morally repugnant Japanese or Italian films I’ve been charmed by) but simultaneously too genre-friendly and entertainment-driven for me to believe it will interrogate its conflicts deeply enough to be worth really intellectually engaging with (a la THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT or ANGST or something, where the movie forwards a repellent protagonist specifically to force us to grapple with our conflicting feelings of being compelled and repulsed). But throwing this shitbag rapist into another story as the lesser-of-two-evils just isn’t something I’m willing to engage with.

    That’s not a criticism of anyone who liked it, and it’s not like I’m offended or think it’s irresponsible or should be banned or anything. But I can definitely understand why a lot of people simply weren’t down for this.

  25. He’s not an anti-hero, he’s an anti-villain. I know the terms seem interchangeable, but they’re not. Roy Batty is the anti-villain of BLADE RUNNER (who also does some eye crushing). Moose Malloy is the anti-villain of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY (who kills people). It’s simply presenting a bad guy as having a slightly more rounded character. Evil people – which, of course, The Blind Man is – rarely think that they’re evil. In all of those cases they are eventually punished for their actions. So if there is “redemption” it is in his realisation of what a horrible person he was before he dies. I hope there isn’t another sequel, because DON’T BREATHE 2 summed up that narrative. It’s a good movie about horrible things.

  26. I guess it also needs to be said: I don’t know why, and I don’t know if it’s right or even morally defensible, but there’s definitely something a lot less fun about a kidnapper/rapist than a Roy Batty or Moose Malloy. Maybe there’s something about the sadism of torturing/degrading the victims rather than just chopping them up. Maybe it’s just the ol’ Puritanism in American culture which makes us uncomfortable with sex but desensitized to violence. But the fact remains that I have a great time watching Jason murder a bunch of teens, but I wouldn’t really enjoy watching him rape a bunch of teens. Even in a series with a pretty openly silly tone, I find one kind of psychopathic deviance a lot more fun than the other. And the more serious the tone, the more that division hardens for me.

    Obviously, then, it’s not a simple case of moralizing or demanding that movies only feature positive role models. It’s the particulars of Detective John Breath’s badness that make him a guy I simply don’t want to spend any more time with.

  27. I can’t really buy this idea that Lang’s an “anti-villain” in DB2, because he’s simply not framed as a villainous character in the movie. He is a protagonist. There is a brief section, where Phoenix learns the truth about him, where it seems like maybe the allegiances are shifting, but then it turns out that her “captors” are actually planning something way worse, and only Lang can save her. He is very much an anti-hero.

  28. I should also note that I’m offended by anything the movie does. I just think it’s a bad story, poorly told, and that whatever interest there might be in its bad guy vs bad guys premise doesn’t come through because it is completely mishandled.

  29. *NOT offended.

  30. I get it, Mr. Subtlety. Don’t watch it. But for the record, the innocent teen or pre-teen girl is the protagonist, so in that sense there is more moral clarity than the first one (where the protagonist was willing to steal a blind war veteran’s settlement money from his daughter being killed by a drunk driver).

    Jason is no angel though – we’ll get into that in October.

  31. I never found myself rooting for Blind Man to own Raylan and his crew. There was no pleasure in watching him take these dudes out, only the increasing sighs of relief I had in knowing that with each kill, the young girl — the only character I truly cared about, well, there’s also Hernandez who seemed like a very decent human — was closer to being saved from an awful fate. I would guess that was what the filmmakers’ were going for, rather than some kind of twisted form of audience manipulation towards liking someone who was an evil piece of shit in the first film.

    More than anything, I pity/envy the people — and you know there’s at least one out there — who will watch this movie, having no idea what the first one was about, then following it up with part 1 and having their minds blown upon realizing the extent of this man’s crimes.

  32. SPOILER – I think people who skip part 1 will also be shocked in this one when he says something like “I’ve killed, I’ve raped.” You don’t really expect the second part.

  33. The genre we used to call B movies had a long history with characters who’d done awful things in their past. Even in bigger films, like HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, Eastwood makes us sort of root for deplorable figures. In UNFORGIVEN Munney says he’s killed women and children. I haven’t seen this, and don’t know if there’s redemption involved, but I guess the thought in the 70s was that the bigger the sin the bigger the redemption.

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