Theatrical Review: The Raid: Redemption

Rama is a new Indonesian SWAT team cop who has a young wife who’s about to give birth to their first child. As we’re first being introduced to him, He’s getting himself prepared for what will be the most intense day of his life.  He tells his wife that he’ll be back at the end of the day and right as he walks out, he cryptically tells his father, “I’ll bring him back.”

Rama joins a group of 20 fellow SWAT members as they’re about to embark on the mission of their lives.  A ruthless crimelord, Tama, owns a derelict apartment building in the Jakarta slums.  This building has become a safe house for the most dangerous killers and criminals in the area, and they’re all ready to do the bidding of Tama in exchange for his protection.  Now, this 20 member SWAT team is about to attempt to take this 30-story building, floor-by-floor, in an attempt to take out the most notorious criminal in their area and of course… hijinks ensue.

That’s the premise to The Raid: Redemption the new movie from director Gareth Evans who’s previously directed the acclaimed action film Merantau which also re-teams him from his star of that film, Iko Uwais, who plays Rama.  I’ve not seen Merantau yet, though it is in my Netflix Instant Play queue.  If The Raid: Redemption is any indication, then Merantau will get fast-tracked to the top of the list very soon.  This is a lot of fun for any action movie fan.

Now by it’s promotion, The Raid: Redemption sounds almost like it’s little more than a video game brought to life, and as far as I’m concerned, if it’s well-made and stylish with it’s action, then there’s really nothing wrong with that.  Well, fortunately, The Raid: Redemption is extremely well made and features some of the best shot and just balls-out crazy action scenes that you’re likely to see all year.

It’s story and characters are somewhat simplistic, but not in any sort of insulting way.  This movie’s main concern is to get you into it’s action as soon as it can, and it certainly does that.  This sort of reminds me of what you might get if director John Woo and Jackie Chan had ever teamed together for a serious film, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty high praise.

Uwais’ martial arts skills are simply amazing and fortunately he’s got a great partner with Gareth Evans in how it’s presented.  Evans shoots these scenes in what appears to be a hand-held style, but amazingly, he keeps his shots pretty wide and you can always follow the action.  There’s no quick cuts and extreme close-ups that seems like it’s par for the course in American action films (though to be fair, there are certainly American directors who can do that pretty well their own selves).  It’s all right there in the open, just waiting for you to gasp at the amazing stuff that gets pulled off.

Now if you’re going to see this, then no doubt, you’re going for it’s intense action and really that is the star of the show.  As I said above, the story and characters are simplistic, but yet I still found myself caring about what was going to happen to Rama and of course the results of his cryptic message to his father at the beginning.  Well, that certainly does get resolved and kudos to Iko Uwais for a great physical performance that I think helps you get more into his character.  The Raid: Redemption won’t win any major acting awards, but still it’s cast is quite committed to it’s story.  Others who really stand out are Joe Taslim as Jaka, the SWAT team commander, Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog, one of Tama’s main enforcers (and again another physical marvel to watch in action) and Ray Sahetapy as Rama, who chews scenery with the best of them.

The Raid: Redemption is just a whole lot of fun for any action movie fan.  You will see some truly amazing work here, I have absolutely no doubt of that at all.  It’s extremely well-made and there’s not a wasted moment on screen.  Don’t miss this one…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

14. April 2012 by Darren Goodhart
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