The Raid: Redemption


The Raid: Redemption
Directed by Gareth Evans
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens March 23

Lean, fast-moving, and filled with game-changing fight sequences that have a brutally beautiful (or beautifully brutal) quality, Gareth Evans's Indonesian martial-arts film The Raid: Redemption lives up to its viral hype. Rama (Iko Uwais) is a rookie member of an elite special-forces team that has been sent to rout a decrepit, 15-story high-rise of its vicious crime lord and the small army of socio- and psychopaths who do his bidding. Nothing is quite as it seems, of course, as the covert mission turns out to have murky political goals, and Rama's connection to one of the crime lord's major henchmen threatens to derail the whole undertaking. That the viewer is able to guess many of the plot twists and story revelations in advance is beside the point. Evans slavishly adheres to genre template even as he tweaks it. So we are introduced to Rama as he kneels on a prayer mat, immediately cuing us that he is a truly wholesome hero. Before he embarks on his deadly task, he kisses the round belly of his beautiful pregnant wife. But Evans doesn't play these moments for the cheap ironic laughter of American films—straightforward sincerity is part of what makes the whole thing work, not to mention the sharply choreographed fight scenes that leave the viewer both breathless and squirming.

My Voice Nation Help

Must-see movie for action fans, but the second half, when weapons become scarce, drags a bit.

Juan Sanchez
Juan Sanchez

The Raid: Redemption is a jarring piece of genre filmmaking set to a furious pace. Arms, legs, necks and backs get "all jacked to hell" from start to finish with barely a moments rest. However, behind the havoc lies an impressive and undeniable poetry of movement on display by the talented actors and stuntmen. They are a company of dancers, flawlessly executing some the most exiting martial arts set pieces seen in recent years, and Iko Uwais, in the lead role as Rama, is their "ballerino". The Raid is economical on plot, favoring mayhem over exposition, and is perhaps better for it. A drug lord (Ray Sahetapy) has set up shop on the top floor of a high-rise apartment building he controls. If police can defeat the kingpin’s minions, they stand a chance to take him down. There is double-dealing, treachery and a predictable plot twist baked into the story, but it all falls second to the nonstop action that defines the film and stands to cement director Gareth Huw Evans’ status as a cult hero. If you enjoy martial arts and action and don't mind the occasional exploding head or broken spine, this one is for you.


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