The Raid (or to give it it’s full title in some countries The Raid: Redemption) is an Indonesian set and spoken action movie directed by Britain’s Gareth Evans. It’s a an absolute blast. If you can take it; if you’re not a fan of action films, best to stay away.
The plot is necessarily simple. A tenement block is controlled by a mobster and his thugs; a heavily armed police SWAT team is sent in to take it. That’s it, really. What unfolds is heavily influenced by martial arts movies (all the hand to hand fighting is in that mould), video games (in that the SWAT team need to advance floor-by-floor to a ‘boss’ at the top), and as the plot unfolds films like Infernal Affairs (remade as Martin Scorsese’s The Departed) are referenced. The film unfurls breathlessly as a brutal and brilliantly choreographed ballet. The soundtrack (contributed to by, among others, a member of Linkin Park) is as much in the kicks landing and the bones breaking as it is in the brilliantly appropriate music. Anything and everything gets used as a weapon – from the conventional body parts, guns and blades through to furniture and as creative a use of a fridge as you’re ever likely to see. It’s graphic in the extreme (for the genre), but somehow never tasteless. It’s designed to do nothing other than thrill and exhilarate; but for me, free as it was of CGI effects, the film’s raw physicality also felt like a strange celebration of the capabilities of the human body, a kind of action movie Olympian celebration. The stunt-work is exemplary; every blow is real and carries consequences. In that sense it doesn’t so much glorify violence as present a heightened version of its reality. Exhilarating as it is, you’re not left with any desire to take part. It’s thrilling, exciting, over-the-top … but never does it incite.
If you can stomach it, you won’t regret it.
Viewed on iTunes download, on laptop. I rated this film 5/5 on rottentomatoes.com and 9/10 on imdb.com.