Sunday, April 8, 2012

[Short] Review: "The Raid: Redemption"

Gareth Evans' The Raid: Redemption might have one of the most efficient set ups in recent memory: a young cop leaves his pregnant wife and father behind to be part of a massive effort to clear out an apartment complex full of criminals, only to find himself the last man standing. Yet if it sounds like Evans' film is little more than a disposable cops and criminals action flick, I'll have to stop you right there. What The Raid lacks in depth it makes up for with incredible film making skill, creating an intense and visceral thrill ride that is easily one of the best action films to come along in years. 

And even though the narrative gradually fills in a few critical story developments along the way, Evans' sense of pacing never gets thrown off. He knows how to build tension, stage fight scenes, and still knows when to slow things down just enough for you to catch your breath. Just about all of the action in The Raid is jaw-dropping, not only because of its incredibly taut, lightning-fast choreography, but also because Evans captures the action so well, refraining from over-editing or a dependency on a shaky camera to create a sense of chaos (as opposed to, say, The Hunger Games). Some of it can border on exhausting, such as a 2 on 1 battle near the end, but the payoff is always worth it. Evans has crafted something so lean and devoid of narrative or stylistic flab that there's not much else to The Raid other than its set up, some light smatterings of backstory, and tons and tons of action. And it all works because the direction is so focused, and the execution so intense. Evans' film is more concerned with action than other well made style-over-substance films of late (such as Hanna), and that might make it a weaker film from an artistic standpoint, but the film as a whole is so insanely gripping and visceral that it hardly matters. Throw in dedicated (albeit one-note) turns from the cast and a perfectly matched electronic score from Joseph Trapanese, and you really can't ask for much more. This is no-nonsense action filmmaking at its absolute pinnacle.

Grade: B
The Action: A

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