Directed By: Gareth Evans
Written By: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy
The Raid: Redemption is director Garth Evan’s latest Indonesian action thriller. I know simply based on the title this sounds like a sequel but I assure you it isn’t. When the film first debut at the Toronto Film festival last year it was just called The Raid. The simple title matched the simple nature of the film. So for some unknown reason it was retitled The Raid: Redemption for its American release. I guess someone saw what happen to John Carter when it dropped “of Mars” and thought, “Let’s be more confusing”. The premise of ‘The Raid’ is rather simple. A S.W.A.T. team is given the task of overtaking a building that is being ruled by a ruthless drug kingpin, and there’s not much more than that. There’s less of a plot more so a thinly structured reason for action. Even with a limited plot ‘The Raid’ continues to remain engaging. The film offers up a visual assault of raw brutal action that barely takes time to breathe.
Action is at its best when it goes beyond being simple eye candy and actually propels the story forward. That does happen in The Raid: Redemption simply because the action is the story. Struggle for survival is the main theme keeping everything together. To say it’s all action and no story may be a little unfair. It does take its time before everything kicks in to give you an idea of what this world is actually like. We get a small back story of Roma, our hero in the story, played by Iko Uwais. This is only Iko Uwais second film and he shows great potential of a future action star. Obviously he was chosen more so for his martial arts ability than his acting talent but he was still able to give an overall performance that wasn’t half bad. While he surely won’t win any awards for his acting it was good enough to get the job done. His character was given some obvious movie tropes to try to get you invested into his fate. Of course he has a wife waiting for him back home and to take it to another level his wife is pregnant with their first child. It’s a clumsy way to give a character some depth, but in a film like this it is to be expected. While the vast majority of the characters were rather flat the actual setting had a decent amount of depth. For this film to work the setting needed to be more than a simple location. It needed to possess a sense of deranged wonderment to keep your attention. For the most part it was able to accomplish that. The building was this decrepit portrait of the horrid desires of society’s most misbegotten souls. Looking at it made you want to race for the nearest tetanus shot. Establishing this location made it the perfect setup for some extreme action.
Extreme action is exactly what The Raid has in never ending amounts. This had some of the best action sequences I have seen in the last few years. Most of which were done with no CGI, wire work, and what seemed like little concern for anyone’s safety. Garth Evans is a rather smart man. Making a film in Indonesia provided him the opportunity to make a movie on the cheap with limited restrictions. Those limited restrictions are allowed for a great deal of cringe worthy moments. Stunts that would have never made it past the first round of lawyers in a big budget action film are treated with passé attitude in this. You can feel the bones breaking, tendons pulling, and teeth shattering as bodies begin to pile up. Not only did the film establish the setting as more than a location there were a lot of inventive ways it was used in the action. The building consisted of a number of thin floors and nearly nonexistent walls and they took advantage of that fact. It allowed the action to remain fluid and never get bogged down. There was a nice mixture of gun battles, sword play, and hand to hand combat. That stopped the action from becoming tedious too quickly. I kept wondering what more could they possibly do, and they kept answering me with another great set piece. For some they may not be able to get behind a film with such a limited story, but others will be able to sit back and enjoy the ballet of carnage this has to offer.