They make lame sequels in Denmark, too.
Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen), the wild boyfriend of the original Pusher, is the star of this sequel. Back in prison, he gets some advice about facing fears and creating an image of himself, but it doesn't work out so well; he gets his ass kicked. After the opening titles, Tonny is out in the real world again. He gets some work at his father (Leif Sylvester)'s shady chop shop garage, but he can't even do that right. Tonny's luck isn't much better with the ladies. Even prostitutes can't get him off. Soon, Tonny finds out that his ex-girlfriend Charlotte (Anne Sorensen) has had a child. There's more stealing than dealing in Pusher II but drugs are always there. Along the way, Tonny tries taking care of the baby. Bringing the tot along to a wedding/bachelor party while mom is snorting in the bathroom speaks volumes to what kind of parents these are. It hardly feels like a continuing story but more a spin-off with a supporting character.
Mikkelsen makes Tonny look like a hopeless soul. He's sad the whole time but in a pathetic way. He's not expressing his feelings to anyone, not chasing a better life, just going through the same old motions. It looks like he's about to weep but even that would take more effort than Tonny can muster. The women look lovely, like exotic foreign models, but they act like vulgar riff raff. Sorensen never makes you sympathize with her, stranded as a single mother. Her friend, played by Maria Erwolter, seems to have a bit more hope for a happy life with a wedding, but she deteriorates into the druggie cycle like the others. Sylvester plays dad as the most normal, relatable character in the film. He may be a criminal, but he's still just a guy disappointed and frustrated with his loser son.
Nicolas Winding Refn is still shooting his Pusher movies with handheld cameras so the shot is always bouncing around the action. Action could just mean people sitting around snorting up or whining, because there is far less physical action in Pusher II. Near the beginning, a botched car robbery leads to a big, realistic car crash, which looks like a random burst of violence, coming out of nowhere to surprise the audience. Any other carnage is really just the protagonists attacking themselves. One of their tricks to stall for time is to pretend they've been shot or robbed, so they shoot each other and trash their own place. Any mild tension created by the original Pusher's selected acts of violence is lost. Maybe something was lost in translation. The beginning theme about overcoming fear and creating one's own public myth never pays off. What was the point, that Tonny didn't do either? That he remained a pathetic loser? This could very well be the message of these downer films. Pusher II barely feels like a sequel.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.