Monday, March 13, 2017

Film Review: 'Pusher 2: With Blood on my Hands' (2004)

Pusher 2 (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of the crime genre and you like dark, character-driven films, this is a must-watch movie."

Recently released from prison, Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) returns home with plans of living a decent life—but his plans quickly crumble due to family, debt, and drugs.

Pusher 2 follows Tonny, a low-level criminal with severe drug problems and a tendency to make poor decisions. Tonny is released from prison and he immediately heads out to meet his father, The Duke. Unfortunately, his father is not fond of his presence. So, Tonny takes small jobs here and there while working to gain his father's respect. However, dealing with drugs always leads to bad deals, which inevitably leads to rash decisions and violence. On top of all of that, Tonny also has to deal with his newborn child, who was born to a drug-addict much like himself. This is sort of an indirect sequel to the first film. By that, I mean: it references the original movie, but you don't have to watch the first movie to enjoy this one—I like that. This plot is also more fine-tuned than the first. It leads to a strong ending, too.

Pusher 2 is a step above its predecessor. This is a grim, uncompromising crime story. This isn't a generic rise-to-power tale. This is a story of struggle—and I like that. The focus on character makes this film incredibly effective. Despite everything Tonny has done, you can't help but feel bad for the guy. I emphasis feel because that's important. This is a film that makes you feel. Although the helpless search for money in the first movie was effective, I strongly prefer the deep look into Tonny's head in this movie. The tension is also fantastic. The simplest moments can put you at the edge of your seat. Although this film is better tuned than the original, I think it still has some pacing issues. There are long moments of silence in this movie. Some of these are effective while others feel unnecessary.

The acting was excellent, though. The entire cast is superb, playing these scumbags with finesse—it's almost like they're natural thugs! Jokes aside, Mads Mikkelsen is brilliant. His performance as Tonny is one of the best in the crime genre. The film is shot well, too. You can clearly notice the huge time difference from the first movie to the second thanks to the overall quality. The music matched the tone of the film, too. The film was written and directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. Refn manages to create a more effective film with a shorter runtime this time around, creating a smoother ride. The film is also darker and tenser than the first film. He has shown nothing but improvement between these two movies.

Overall, Pusher 2: With Blood on My Hands is a fantastic film. If you're a fan of the crime genre and you like dark, character-driven films, this is a must-watch movie. From the grim plot to the excellent performances, this is a stellar film. There are some minor issues with the pacing, but it's not enough to spoil this otherwise superb experience.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood, nudity.

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