We have been reviewing several action films in the past few months, and most of them don’t really match the standard the action genre has set up in the last decade. Gone are the days when an action movie could just go full Bourne Identity with the use of a shaky cam and not allow audiences to watch what is happening on screen. Gone are the days of quick cuts and trying to hide the lack of ability of the performers and hiding the excellent work of the stunt teams. In the age of The Raid and John Wick, action films need to step up if they want to stand out. Netflix‘s Lost Bullet 2 tries to do just that.
The film is directed by Guillaume Pierret, who also directed the first installment. The movie stars Alban Lenoir, Stefi Celma, Pascale Arbillot, Sebastien Lalanne, Diego Martin, and Anne Serra. The film follows the aftermath of the events of the first film and sees the character of Lino going on a rampage full of vengeance, as he tries to catch up to those responsible for his brother’s death. The film also serves as a setup for a third installment, which makes this film stand as the middle chapter in the future trilogy.
Second installments definitely have a lot of things against them. Unlike the first installment in a series, the second part doesn’t have the chance to be shocking or have anything new to say; it often just repeats the beats of the first film but is now in familiar territory. Sequels are only given a go because the first film was successful enough, and so producers don’t want to take the risk of making a second film that feels completely different from the first. More of a good thing is always good, but Lost Bullet 2 suffers from being more of the same.
The same is good, at least when it comes to the action parts of the movie. Pierret has a very good dominion of how action should be portrayed on screen. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but he stands way above the average of action directors working today. The movie shines especially when it goes for the Fast and Furious flavor and basically transforms the movie into a battle arena for cars, with weapons and everything. It is quite fun, and the scenes do have that excitement factor you always want in your action sequences.
On the other hand, hand-to-hand combat feels a bit more restrained. It could be that some of the main actors are still not up to part with the stunt team around them, but most of the action choreography during these fights feels very generic. It isn’t bad, but there is not a single one-to-one encounter that manages to match the chase sequences when it comes to excitement and craft. Thankfully, the movie seems to know this as well, and outside a long sequence near the middle, the rest of the fighting is encapsulated in small doses.
So, the action is great. If you watched the first movie, and you liked what you saw, then get ready, this is more of the same, but it is good enough to make action film fans happy when watching it. However, the storytelling feels like the opposite case, and it suffers from being the middle chapter in a trilogy. As the movie progresses, it is clear that the story is just an afterthought and an excuse for the fights and the chases. As the movie ends, then everything that happened feels like complete nonsense. Cool nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless.
Lino, our main character, is just a fighting machine in this one. This could be intentional because the movie seems to portray him as someone who has lost his way as a consequence of his thirst for vengeance. However, when looking at the character and his journey in the film, he ends up exactly in the same place as when the movie started. This means that in terms of character, there is no progression, and without the character’s stakes, the action ends up feeling empty.
It is hard to make a compelling action movie. Sometimes the most simple answer to making great character movements in action films is to make the story as simple as possible. Lost Bullet 2 finds itself in the middle, as the story is more than simple, it is actually paper thin. However, the execution makes it seem like there are many moving pieces, and it all becomes one big mess in the end. A clearer approach to storytelling would have been better, for sure, movies don’t really need a lot of twists and turns to work.
In the end, Lost Bullet 2 is a solid action film trapped inside a messy story, with characters that don’t really work beyond their looks. This is a shame because Stefi Celma, for example, could take the movie all on her own, but this isn’t her story, even when she is clearly the more compelling character. Maybe the spinning wheels will finally be released in the final installment, but we’ll have to wait and see.