One of the most brutal action movies in recent memory, The Raid: Redemption is a non-stop, slick and violent thriller that delivers on all fronts. Superbly directed by Gareth Evans, The Raid is a must-see for action fans.
In The Raid, a SWAT team descends upon a multi-storied building seeking to arrest, or kill, the ruthless drug dealer who calls it home. Once inside, however, the police officers discover they've walked into a giant deathtrap. As their numbers dwindle, the survivors decide their only option is to go on the offensive. Lots of people die.
Before watching The Raid, I read a friend's movie review that was less enthusiastic about the film than most, which range from glowing to extremely glowing. The general thesis of the review was that The Raid was one long action scene, and after a while the action got tiring. I was expecting to feel the same way. There have been many movies over the years - often kung fu films not unlike The Raid - that get so caught up in cool stunts and combat scenes that they all blur into one long sequence. Even though the action is impressive, they quickly grow boring and forgettable.
The Raid doesn't have much of a plot, and the entire scenario as to how a single SWAT team ends up taking on a building full of dangerous criminals is largely questionable, but Evans is able to gloss over the film's flaws with his keen eye for action and, more importantly, set up. The Raid has tons of action, and yes, by the time the climax rolls around there has probably been too many fight sequences, but it's the moments of calm before the storm where Evans shines. Aided by great cinematography by Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono, Evans guides the audiences through a variety of sets and circumstances that, despite their similar appearance, feel fresh and vibrant. And exciting.
Evans pauses just long enough to develop his main character - played by Iko Uwais - and those around him, and to make us care for his survival. No character is safe in the movie - he kills off people you would expect to survive - which adds to the tension and suspense. The result is a movie where you never know exactly what is going to happen next, or who is going to live/die.
The Raid: Redemption is not without its faults, and by the end the remaining characters have been shot, beaten, stabbed and otherwise brutalized so much that you're ready for things to end, but it is a beautiful and visceral action movie that no action fan should miss.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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