Bottom Line: The Raid: Redemption is an excruciating waste of time.
Directed by: Gareth Evans
Starring: Ananda George, Doni Alamsyah, Eka “Piranha” Rahmadia, Iko Uwais, Iang Darmawan, Joe Taslim, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Satrya, Yayan Ruhian
Very rarely do a find a film so tremendously overrated. The Raid: Redemption, known in its homeland of Indonesia as Serbuan maut, has had critics practically bowing down to it since it first reached American soil back in March, with reviews that described it as “sheer action ecstasy”, “a film for which the adjective ‘awesome’ may have been invented”, and “the best action film in decades”. It’s one thing to turn your brain off to enjoy an action movie. The genre has certain undeniable highlights, but it also has the tendency to progress unrealistically. The Raid requires even more, along the lines of shutting off your digestive system. I can enjoy any amount of violence when supported by an intriguing plot and solid acting. Fargo, The Departed, GoodFellas, and Braveheart are all some of my very favorite films. Here’s a film that completely obliterates the already lenient limits of the action genre: Rather than merely lacking realism, plot is taken with a grain of salt. The entire story can be boiled down to just three words: “mindlessly brutal mayhem”. All that is left is an unsophisticated mess of killing, killing, and more killing, all in the name of (guess what?) killing.
The first two or three minutes consist of a conversation between a SWAT team (have I seen that setup before?). This was the point at which my heart rate was the fastest. We’re being prepared for the inevitable action at this point. But before you can even say “go”, director Gareth Evans is throwing blood at us left and right. He seems to think he’s doing something entertaining, like throwing confetti out of a parade float, but it’s just boring. “Routine” is too generous a description for the way everything works out in The Raid. It’s like the same three-minute beatdown over and over again, except on different floors of the building. I kept waiting for “Level Up!” to appear somewhere on the screen because of how superficially the film resembled a video game. My recommendation: watch the fairly similar Die Hard instead. You can fall asleep after that movie.
9/29/2012 5:59 AM EST – Addendum: I have noticed in the comments section that my early mention of Fargo, The Departed, GoodFellas, and Braveheart was (in Paul Newman’s words) a failure to communicate. Please allow me to take this time to a) apologize and b) provide enough explanation to avoid further confusion. I was not comparing The Raid to any of those films. None of them are very alike. I was merely providing four examples of films that were noteworthy because of how brilliant the plots were, despite the graphic violence. The Raid seems to have some sort of idea that violence IS plot (or vice-versa), and the film is therefore excruciating.