50/50 Review #48: With Blood On My Hands: Pusher II.

After my surprising liking of the first film, the next two had a lot to live up to. I found out almost immediately that while this is a trilogy, it's not the typical trilogy where it picks up right where the last left off, regardless of the to-be-continued feeling the first film left off with. Though we do follow a familiar face in this film--Frank's best friend in the first movie, Tonny. At least a couple years after the first film, we follow Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) as he's released from prison (something unrelated to the events of the first film). He goes to his father, the Duke (Leif Sylvester), to get work as a car thief for a chop shop, but his father doesn't trust or respect him. Meanwhile, he also discovers he might be the father of a baby boy from a promiscuous woman named Charlotte (Anne Sorensen). And on top of all of that, he needs to help is friend Kurt (Kurt Nielsen) get the money he owes or else it might be both their necks on the line.

This film is much more of a drama than the first film, which was basically a drama-thriller. This film is all about Tonny searching for a little respect and recognition. And if that theme isn't clear enough, the camera continually focuses on the tattoo on the back of Tonny's bald head which says "Respect." Nobody gives it to him, and he's verbally and emotionally abused throughout the entire film while he's trying desperately to please people and put his life back together.

I didn't like the film as much as the first, but I did still think it was well done. I also appreciate what it was doing by turning it into more of a character piece on Tonny and his hunt for redemption. While he wasn't as engaging of a character as Frank from the first film, I did feel for him by the end of the film and really rooted for him to come out on top somehow. Because while everybody else was calling him a pathetic loser, it always hit that much harder when you looked at how pathetic most of those people were.

Unfortunately, outside of Tonny, the film took everything I liked about the first film and pretty much dropped it. There were still hints at some of the realism of characterizations, but it wasn't as prevalent this time around. Instead, it amped up the focus on the drugs and how all the characters not only did drugs but centered their lives around them--in other words, the exact thing I appreciated the first film for not doing. And because of this, I had trouble connecting with any of the characters. I didn't think they were as strong as in the first film (outside of maybe Tonny and his father).

So while I didn't like it as much as the first film, I do think it's worth watching if you've seen the first. It does hint at Frank's fate from the first film, and the evolution of Tonny is done very well. I do really like the final scene of the film. And there's a pretty great scene that brings back Milo (who I believe will be the focus of the final film, as well). I wish it had the great dialogue and characterization of the first film, but what it does with Tonny is good, too.

I Am McLovin!

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