The Raid: Redemption | Film review
An Indonesian import offers nonstop action.
What’s in a subtitle? In the case of The Raid: Redemption, very little. Renamed a few weeks ago to sidestep a copyright dispute, Gareth Evans’s relentless action thriller offers few opportunities for any of its cold-blooded characters to redeem themselves. In the slums of Jakarta, a merciless kingpin (Ray Sahetapy) has commandeered a tenement building and transformed it into his criminal sanctuary. Felons of all walks are welcome to lie low here, provided they can swing the rent. No cops dare enter this nest of murderers and thieves. Until, that is, an elite SWAT team is assembled to penetrate the structure and neutralize its inhabitants, floor by floor. Guess who’s holed up in the penthouse?
The scenario is so ingeniously simple that one could imagine even the lousiest of genre hacks milking it for a few good thrills. Evans, it turns out, is no hack. Expending mere minutes on setup, the Welsh-born director quickly strands his outnumbered police squad in high-rise hell. From here, The Raid proceeds like a lit fuse. The gunfights have a messy elegance—one suspenseful scene finds our heroes betraying their location in a pitch-black corridor with muzzle flare—but the adrenaline rush really kicks in when the machetes come out. (Martial-arts fanatics will recognize the frenetic throws and strikes of silat, the film’s amazing Indonesian fighting style.) The Raid only loses momentum in its homestretch, when the plot twists begin to outnumber the living characters. But by then, your heart may be grateful for the slackening pace.