Don’t Breathe 2 (2021)
Directed by: Rodo Sayagues | 98 minutes | action, drama, thriller, horror | Actors: Stephen Lang, Madelyn Grace, Brendan Sexton III, Adam Young, Rocci Williams, Christian Zagia, Bobby Schofield, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Stephanie Arcila, Diaana Babnicova, Sofija Stojanovic, Steffan Rhodri, Miodrag Cvetkovic, Ibrahim Ishaq, Eydel Francisco Balbuena , Ron Rogell
‘Don’t Breathe’ is such a film that managed to earn many times over the modest budget with which it was made. The story takes place entirely in and around the house of Norman Nordstrom, a defenseless man who is blind at first sight who becomes the victim of a group of young burglars. In reality, however, Norman is a hardened war veteran, a muscular powerhouse trained to take out people, and also has a burly, alert and bite-like Rottweiler.
Due to the success of part one, making a sequel was a logical and predictable decision from a commercial point of view. ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ takes place eight years after the first film. We see how Norman leads a quiet and secluded life with the young girl Phoenix and his beloved four-legged friend Shadow. A survivor of a scorching house fire, the girl has been taken in by Norman and raised as his own daughter. Phoenix knows no better than that the blind man is her father.
Yet she is slowly getting tired of her isolated existence and she is eager to discover the wide world. Making friends, going to school and more of the seemingly obvious things that are part of a normal child’s life. However, after one of her weekly shopping trips with a trusted friend, Phoenix learns why the outside world is such a dangerous place. A group of ruthless criminals, led by the scruffy villain Raylan, tracks her down and tries to kidnap the girl. But anyone who has seen part one knows of course that Norman won’t just let this happen…
One of the starting points that makes ‘Don’t Breathe’ so strong is of course missing in this second part. Unlike in the original, we now know that the invaders do not encounter a helpless man, but a skilled fighter. This leads to ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ being a lot less suspenseful and surprising than its illustrious predecessor. Instead, director Rodo Sayagues serves us a good deal of explicit violence and Stephen Lang, as a blind ex-command, can indulge his unscrupulous opponents by stabbing, cutting, shooting and thrusting. He does that with gusto. While the burglars in the first part were still morally ambiguous characters (their act was wrong, but their motives not completely incomprehensible), the intruders in ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ are completely one-dimensional villains. The battle scene also moves outside in this second part, so that the claustrophobic atmosphere of the original can only be felt in the first half of the film.
But the most daring step the makers of ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ take is the attempt to make Norman – who during the first part turned out to have quite a few unsavory things on his tally and was perhaps a worse person than the burglars – largely to rehabilitate. Where in ‘Don’t Breathe’ he often looks like a cornered wild animal that mainly acts on instinct, here we see a man torn by grief, self-loathing and demons from the past who also occasionally shows his vulnerable side. shows. Someone who has done terrible things out of desperation, pain or necessity, but who essentially has the heart in the right place. This is apparent, for example, from his love for dogs and the sincere desire to protect the girl he takes care of. The moral emptiness of his opponents exaggerates this rehabilitation of Norman’s character. Whether you as a viewer are willing to go along with this depends on your image of humanity and capacity for forgiveness.