Netflix got 2020 off to an exciting start by announcing a host of Originals that are worth the cost of a monthly subscription. Among them are new projects from Ben Wheatley, Ron Howard, David Fincher, Spike Lee, Charlie Kaufman, Dee Rees, Ryan Murphy, and other interesting filmmakers. Unfortunately, Timo Tjahjanto’s planned sequel to The Night Comes for Us wasn’t included in that list, and that’s an omission that hurts my soul.
If you aren’t familiar with The Night Comes for Us, it’s a jaw-dropping Indonesian action movie that ranks among the genre’s very best. Starring Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, and Julie Estelle — all of whom appeared in The Raid movies, which are also masterpieces — the film’s story follows a Triad enforcer (Taslim) who betrays his colleagues by saving a little girl they have marked for death. Obviously, this act of treachery doesn’t sit too well with the criminals, and they unleash gangland hit squads in their swarms to make the traitor pay.
The plot is simple, but this movie is all about the carnage that unfolds as the protagonist and his comrades try to survive the titular night that’s coming for them. The action is a maelstrom of cinematic ultraviolence that gives most splatter movies a run for their money, and every fight scene is wilder than the last. Tjahjanto’s movies are visceral, grueling, and absurd, but viewers are always guaranteed to wince at the amount of punishment they inflict on human bodies.
Unlike the majority of action movies coming out of modern Hollywood, the action in The Night Comes for Us isn’t hidden by cuts that obscure the good stuff. Action buffs want to see badass performers brawl, hack, and slash their way through each other without shedding an ounce of remorse, and that’s what we get here. While none of the performers died on set or anything, they did get physical with each other, and their talents are given room to breathe and shine. The fights, which were choreographed by Uwais, are gung-ho and impressive while also being incredibly varied and exciting. This movie is The Raid’s nastier sibling, and I mean that as a compliment.
Without going into spoilers, the movie ends with the door left wide open for a sequel. There’s a subplot involving Estelle’s mysterious assassin character, simply known as The Operator, who glides through the movie like an angel of death, engaging in knife fights and blowing shit up. The film’s climax suggests that her character will lead the next installment, guiding viewers deeper into this criminal underworld as she wages a war against the Triad hierarchy.
Tjahjanto is also itching to direct a sequel. After Netflix made its announcement about this year’s new movies, he and screenwriter Aaron Stewart-Ahn confirmed that a story treatment for Night of the Operator was complete, and they hope to be able to bring it to life at some point. The only downside is that the streamer doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to make it happen.
The thought of this movie never coming to fruition is heartbreaking for a few reasons. First of all, it’s evident that the creators have ambitions to tell more stories in this universe. The movie takes place in a world where chaos reigns, and it’s one that most action aficionados would like to explore more of. Secondly, Estelle deserves to be the leading star of the action genre, because she’s an outstanding talent with a commanding screen presence. Finally, Tjahjanto is the kind of filmmaker who likes to constantly up the ante, and a sequel to this movie would be even more ambitious, bone-crunching, and thrilling.
Who knows why Netflix hasn’t greenlit a sequel yet. When the movie dropped in October 2018, #FilmTwitter showered it with praise and gave off the impression that everyone was watching it. At the same time, maybe the viewership wasn’t there. The world is bigger than Twitter, and your average Netflix subscriber probably isn’t interested in watching a sadistic Indonesian movie with subtitles. Until the streamer makes public all of its viewing statistics, no one will know for sure how well The Night Comes for Us performed.
Indonesia’s Communications and Information Minister Johnny G Plate recently proposed that Netflix stop producing original content from other countries and focus all of its resources on projects from his homeland. If that’s what it takes to get a sequel to The Night Comes for Us made, I’m all for Mr. Plate’s suggestion. Every action fan owes it to themselves to see this movie, and even if you’re not big on the genre, it’s still worth seeing just to be amazed at how crazy it gets.