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Dont Breathe 2 Main

Don't Breathe 2 Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Screen Gems


Directed by Rodo Sayagues
Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
2021, 98 minutes, Rated 18
Released on 13th August 2021

Stephen Lang as The Blind Man
Madelyn Grace as Phoenix
Brendan Sexton III as Raylan
Adam Young as Jim-Bob


Years after tormenting Jane Levy’s friends to death, Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) has quietly settled down. Having given up kidnapping and raping young women, Norman lives a life of isolation, raising the child he found in the street following a catastrophic housefire. Now a teenager, Phoenix (Madelyn Grace) longs to get out of her father’s dusty old cabin and widen her social circle. Sure enough, when a gang of organ-harvesting ex-military men break into their home, Phoenix is set to make some new friends. With the gang set on kidnapping his daughter for… reasons… Norman is forced to return to old habits in order to protect himself and everything he holds dear.

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With Don’t Breathe 2, director Rodo Sayagues and co-writer Fede Alvarez attempt to rehabilitate Norman Nordstrom, repositioning The Blind Man as a flawed but noble antihero, battling for redemption. The logic is sound: Stephen Lang is a tour de force as Nordstrom, and a horror villain so tremendously intimidating that one can’t help but root for him as he takes down swathes of ex-military heavies. Being far more interesting than any of his victims, it made sense that a sequel might want to focus on Nordstrom as its antihero.

But you can only redeem so much, and once again Sayagues (co-writer of the original film) trips over Don’t Breathe’s repulsive mid-act twist. While Nordstrom’s past sins are acknowledged, the specifics are swept under the rug. Hoping we might have forgotten precisely what was going on in Norman’s basement, the film pits him against a gang of merciless monsters, as the ‘lesser’ of two evils. With a child in jeopardy, Sayagues and Alvarez attempt to force the audience into rooting for Norman - but that only works as long as you forgot/didn’t know about the whole turkey baster thing. Otherwise, it’s just a murderous rapist and a gang of murderous organ thieves kicking seven bells out of each other. 

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This, at least, the film does well. With Norman no longer beating up unsuspecting teenagers, Don’t Breathe 2 leans into the action – the Aliens to the first film’s Alien (complete with Madelyn Grace, as its Newt). The action sequences are gritty, brutal, and well coreographed. The lean, sinewy Stephen Lang remains a plausible threat. Divorced from the first film, he’d make for a great action movie hero.

But even if its main character weren’t a kidnapper and rapist, Don’t Breathe 2 would still be a mess. The story is a rehash of the first film, lazily substituting a bit of cash for a little girl, and dimwit burglars for dimwit mercenaries. The bad guys and their motives are shabbily written, shifting every time the film needs a cheap plot twist. One minute they’re a gang of hyper-competent mercenaries, the next, they’re…. uh, Brendan Sexton III and Fiona O’Shaughnessy. Sexton and O'Shaughnessy are more fun than their gun toting goons, but they come with a silly revelation and even dafter motive.

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Regardless of whether one can overlook Norman Nordstrom’s past sins or not, this sequel is a disappointment. Jettisoning the home invasion horror in favour of all-out action, the film stumbles over its uninteresting villains and silly plot twists. Lang and Grace navigate their way through this shambles well enough, but it’s a waste of everyone's talents. Don’t bother.


Movie: 2 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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