... At the climax of our sordid, passionate tryst, THE RAID: REDEMPTION made me its bitch. . . And ya know what? I'm okay with that...
For those of you unfamiliar with THE RAID: REDEMPTION--which was originally simply titled, "THE RAID" (and is a far better title than the gratuitous "REDEMPTION" tag they tacked on), go watch the trailer NOW. For the rest of you, rest assured that it's not only an amazingly choreographed film overflowing with gallons of creatively spilled blood and set-pieces, but it truly is--to this critic--one of the greatest action films ever conceived. In a time where ingenuity is hard to come by--especially within the action realm--Gareth Evans (a Welsh director doing an Indonesian film) has gone right for the simple jugular. This isn't about exposition, it's not about deep characterization, it's about spectacularly vicious combat set amidst tight corridors, sable stairwells and garishly-lit rooms. While there's just enough motivation and humanity to make you care for the protagonists, THE RAID is about the action. The tackle you, toss you, break you, bleed you action. Every scene of beautifully choreographed carnage one-ups the last and rarely slows down to allow the viewer to catch his breath. It's an endless concoction of brilliant bullet ballets, close-quarter-combat, and sweat-dripping tension. I could (and want) to spoil every violent vignette, but I'll just say that the premiere had EVERYONE in the theater cheering and clapping after EVERY fight scene.
Amping the kick-ass factor to eleven was that of the exquisite sound design and musical score by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. The soundtrack pulses and bristles with industrial beats and hard-edged synth as it compliments ear-piercing sounds of clicking-guns, metal-grating knives, and the constant drumming of machine gun fire. Like the rest of the film, the sound herein is something you don't just listen to; you experience it. The audio is so effective that you feel as though you're right there alongside Rama (our hero and the man responsible for ALL of the choreography) and his unlucky band of SWAT.
One of the only elements that caused my brow to raise was that of a tacked-on element of the story towards the finale which seemed to make the entire slum-war appear a wee bit convoluted. This does set up for a sequel (as it's already going into preproduction), but this last ditch-effort of an explanation regarding a certain betrayal left me more confused than satisfied. Aside from that, there's a moment early on in which a "split-up" occurs. There's no reasoning behind why one group of Rama's team maneuvers one path while the rest take another--the editing during this minor moment doesn't help matters either (it was also edited by Gareth Evans). I was also curious as to why the SWAT team forego their weapons at this point--out of ammo, I guess? Regardless, these are drops of negativity within an ocean of pure excellence.
It's a day after I witnessed the film, and I'm still giddy. It's rare that I'm willing to watch a film directly after witnessing it for the first time, but I've already seen it twice now, and have no issue going back again. I honestly can't understand anyone not loving this film unless they don't like action films. If that's the case, then they have absolutely no business watching it, nor deserve to be in the same vicinity of such a magnificent piece of adrenaline-fueled mayhem. At the climax of our sordid, passionate tryst, THE RAID: REDEMPTION made me its bitch. . . And ya know what? I'm okay with that.