Brat 2 (aka Brother 2, 2000) Movie Review

I’ve been told that “Brat 2″, a sequel to a successful movie, is one of the biggest box office champ in Russian history. The film is a major success and (I’m once again told) it has revitalized the Russian film industry and their stature in the action genre. If this is the case, then all I can say is: The Russians have a long way to go!

The star of our subdued opus is Sergei Bodrov, who plays Danila, a former military man with a knack for getting into trouble. Despite the fact that our lead doesn’t look old enough to have been in the Russian army a few years ago, writer/director Aleksei Balabanov asks us to accept that Danila is, in fact, a lethal killing machine. Okay, I guess I’ll play along. After all, if I can “buy” that Keanu Reeves is a kung fu master, why not Bodrov as the Russian equivalent of Rambo?

The thrust of “Brat 2″ (“brat”, I believe, means “brother” in Russia) is that the nationalistic ex-soldier Danila takes up the cause of an ex-compatriot murdered by shady businessmen in cahoots with the Russian mob. The murdered man has a twin brother who is a star hockey player in America, but because of a shady American businessman, the brother has been cheated out of his rich contract. Armed with a disarming appearance and what appears to be a short and very psychotic older brother (Viktor Sukhorukov), Danila sets off for Chicago to collect some payback.

Once in America, writer/director Aleksei Balabanov, by way of his leading man Danila, proves lacking in his understanding of the American landscape, and manages to insult pretty much everyone in America and the country in general. (What’s that all about, “comrade”?) This approach is somewhat understandable, since “Brat 2″ is wholly a Russian creation, and as any viewers of the “Rambo” franchise can attest, it’s inevitable that a foreigner’s interpretation of a foreign land will be not only skewed, but also downright cartoonish. Such is the case with “Brat 2″.

Although sold as an action film, “Brat 2″ is actually not that, well, exciting. Like the Swedish film “Executive Protection”, the action in “Brat 2″ is so subdued and understated that any action fan looking for a jolt will be disappointed. This, despite the presence of a couple of wholesale massacres. How is it possible that in a movie where a main character mows down about a half dozen people in a nightclub’s back room and I never once felt any sense of thrill or excitement? Talk about playing it on the down low.

The direction by Balabanov seems more concern with piling on the notion of “being Russian” than actually bothering with a coherent story. “Brat 2″ opens in Moscow, with Danila and his band of ex-soldier buddies trying to get a shady Russian businessman (Sergei Makovetsky) to do the right thing, but only ends up being chased by his murderous goons all over Moscow. But even though the businessman is clearly responsible for the murder of his army buddy, Danila simply loses interest in exacting revenge, and instead heads over to Chicago to take on the equally shady American businessman (Gary Houston).

So let me get this straight: Righting the wrong done to a cheated Russian who our hero has never met takes precedence over righting the cold-blooded murder of the hero’s close buddy? So, according to Balabanov, getting back at that dirty American scumbag for cheating a Russian means more than getting back at that dirty Russian scumbag for killing a Russian. Actually, Danila never gets back at the shady Russian. This is what it means to “be Russian”, da?

“Brat 2″ only takes off once the film transplants to its America locales. There, the film is definitely funnier and has a better flow, not to mention some energy. Although the film maintains a steady level of “off-kilter” vibe, the first half, set in Russia, is just not that good. Saying that nothing much happens is an understatement, although that doesn’t quite explain why the second half is so messy and unfocused. All of this leaves me to this question: Are Russians really this uncomfortable around black people? According to “Brat 2″, Russians and black people don’t mix, and when they do, violence results!

I’m not sure if I can tell you what is it about “Brat 2″ that has made it such a big sensation in its native land. It’s not the most thrilling movie I’ve ever seen, the action sequences are not entirely competent, and the film as a whole has the production values of a Straight-to-Video action B-movie. The screenplay, along with leading man Sergei Bodrov, seems like they’re just going through the motions of making a movie.

In closing, I’m still waiting for a decent action movie from Russia.

Aleksei Balabanov (director) / Aleksei Balabanov (screenplay)
CAST: Sergei Bodrov Jr. …. Danila
Viktor Sukhorukov …. Viktor
Alexander Diachenko …. Kostya/Mitya
Sergei Makovetsky …. Belkin


Buy Brat 2 on DVD



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • Your Mums Ex

    Wow! What a great review!!! Thoughtful, fare and most of all funny.
    You should be working for Rolling Stone magazine.
    I mean, the way you described this film is so Anti-Russian. As I was reading your 5/5 review I couldn't help but laugh. Seriously.

    Brat 2 is not as bad as this guy described it , trust me. So just go and read up Wikipedia review of this film.

    And as for the A55HOLE who wrote this, Dude, get yourself a Russian girl. You Goddamn virgin…

  • JR

    ahaha)) be easier)
    Brother 2 is good movie ….. very good movie .. with good story and great soundtracks. This is not story about “bad” americans or difference between russians and americans. Its stupid. no.. This is higher and easier ;)
    P.S.: everybody see what he or she want to see

  • Oleg

    I’ve seen this movie and its prequel not a long ago.
    It just shows what becomes of any group of people that renounced the Christ’s teachings – it becomes a barbaric criminal tribe, with proclaimed brotherhood on the outside, but hipocrisy and bloody struggle behind it, fueled by hate towards some other group of people.
    I do remember that in the 90s – the post-soviet people were somewhat anti-american, after dropping USSR they expected to get to the earthly heaven of capitalism and democracy, but while abandoning all the Jesus Christ’ teachings they only got poorness, moral degradation, incompetent rulers, crime explosion, being given foreign credits without any seeming benefit.
    These are the real fruit of idolization of money and freedom without belief in God.
    Jesus Christ taught not to take revenge, not to insult, not to kill, not to fornicate, to love God with all heart, soul and mind, as well as loving others as ourselves, even our enemies, and many other good things – just read the Bible for the rest.
    I am not sinless, and thank God for his grace through Jesus Christ to helping me overcome my sinful nature, but as a christian I must expose what is against God’s command:
    - murder, fornication (sex outside marriage), hatred, unforgiveness, revenge.
    I hope with God’s grace and help through his son Jesus Christ – these sins will be removed from our lives.

  • Ad_rudak

    It is addressed placiba
    You look at that you write. You still can talk about egoism. Our country isn’t an angel. But if to look at yours, Russia has a rest… USA has much more untied wars and unties at present under the democracy slogan. There is no its (democracy) in the pure state and can’t be. Parasitizes on the world economy. I with full confidence can tell that your economy won’t hold on long time and will fail. And in a place of the prevailing percent of consumption of all
    The made blessings in the world (as it occurs now) you will be content with remains from a table. I don’t say that all Americans bad and without cultural, can understand me not correctly. Some don’t understand that such geopolitics and that at each country the interests. But, placiba, the example shows that he narrowly thinks also such as it it is necessary to beat freaks.

    Eduard, Rossija

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thommy-Strömdahl/100001644872302 Thommy Strömdahl

    Yes. This is what it means to be a Russian. Im Scandinavian and i lived with a Russian for 5 years. Russians still have the mentality of the communist party that the government should take care of everything, and not take any responsibility yourself. Let others do it for you. Russians are like lost children. Sad to say but it is true. Even 20 years after the fall of communism, they still want someone to lead them instead of making their own future.