Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George and Ray Sahetapy
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
The Raid’s set-up is simple. A team of cops goes to a building block populated by criminals and ran by a crime lord, in order to take out the big (and ultimately mad) dogs. Going up floor-by-floor the team’s presence is eventually noted and the inhabitants informed they can stay free of charge should they take care of the building’s “infestation” Simple plot, simple dialogue and simple setting yet the fight scenes which form the majority of this film’s content are anything but. The story is not this film’s main attraction and is instead a series of excuses in order to manage a series of fight scenes. However I personally was slightly surprised to learn that the film’s narrative had more substance than I expected, moving into Infernal Affairs territory and developing the protagonist beyond his initial, rather clichéd and cheesy, introduction.
Simple but never stupid, The Raid is a film that perfectly understands and excels within what it is. For some any moment when the action stops will be written off as slow and boring, however aside from a few moments, I was thoroughly engrossed throughout and found the film’s pauses for breath to be well spread and greatly needed. Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, The Raid doesn’t outstay its welcome and ends exactly when it needs to. Gareth Huw Evans (Yes this Indonesian set and scripted film, is directed by a Welshman) wrote, directed and edited this film, deserving much awards recognition for doing so. The numerous fight sequences are all immaculately staged and coherently shot and edited. Gareth Evans places us in the action not by shaking the camera until we feel sick, but by holding the shots and letting the action play out in front of us. By the end of the film I felt like I was in these fights and was urging the hero on to land the final punches.
The fear for a film with such levels of action, is that you will become desensitized and the film repetitive. The Raid avoids both of these potential pitfalls. The violence in The Raid is consistently, constantly and uncompromisingly brutal. Along with The Impossible, this is the only film this year that has had me audibly reacting to scenes of physical injury. This is a film that you want to share with others, in order to hear the orchestra of oohs and aahs that the film will instigate within anybody who watches it. Each fight scene also has a new and unique spin; you never see the same fight scene twice. The action is so well done, that after each set piece I felt like applauding.
While Evans and the film have been given much credit for its scenes of action, I feel not enough credit has been given for its scenes of tension. The Raid is possibly the most tense I have been watching a film this year. There are numerous scenes in this film that if I had been on a seat while watching it, would have put me on the edge of it. Many shots and sequences of this film play out like a survival horror and along with The Impossible it may be one of the most horrific, non “horror” films of the year.
However The Raid does have its flaws. While the action sequences had me excited then sickened and constantly awestruck, it is impossible to insinuate that for such a reason this is a perfect film. While paced perfectly and the running time already lean, there are certain scenes I felt could have been slightly trimmed or removed. However moving from nitpicks to larger problems, as noted earlier, the performances and dialogue is all rather simple, predictable and one-note. Do not look here for dense and moving story or character. While within the experience of the film this can be forgotten and forgiven due to how well it achieves what it is actually setting out to achieve and be, it doesn’t mean these problems don’t exist and won’t be even more problematic for those who aren’t as excited by the action. This is definitely a film that play better to a younger audience and one that is not off put, but rather attracted, by insane levels of violence. This is a film I wished I could have experienced in a cinema, and I can’t wait to share the experience with my friends. For many young male adults, this film may gather a cult following and be a frequent Friday night fixture.
Ultimately The Raid’s “problems” never spoil the experience of the film itself. Gareth Huw Evans has almost single handedly produced what may be one of the best action films of all time and certainly of this year. The fight choreography and intensity is among the most elaborate, yet coherent, enjoyable yet effecting, that I have ever seen. It grabs you from the beginning and does not let go. Its acting, story and dialogue is simple and sparse yet not stupid or silly and is suitably so. If you’re a fan of action cinema, you owe it to yourself to experience this film and relish in what is one of the most satisfying genre experiences of 2012 and the decade so far.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
Disagree with this review? Give us your thoughts in the Your Say section