There are times where a movie can be an experience. The action and/or drama are hot, the audience is eating everything up, and the sense of joy in the theater is palpable. Itís a beautiful thing, and if Gareth Evanís film, The Raid: Redemption, is able to open in more theaters than it has, fans of the action genre can all ban together at their local cinema and share those feelings together. This is truly an action film for the ages, a film that knows where the boundaries of the action genre go, but likes to go even further to surprise and gratify the audience.
For plot, its ďcops vs. criminalsĒ formula at itís basic. A group of elite SWAT members are meeting up with their lieutenant to take down a notorious crime boss, who owns a shanty apartment that is the forefront of drug operations. Director Evans lets the viewer know everything right in these opening moments, with a bit of twist and turns as the brisk 101 minutes goes by in the flash. Then, once the players are established, the tension cuts like a knife until the fireworks are set off and it is a frenzy of shootouts and incredible fight choreography. It is brutal, heinous, but edited and shot crisply. There is a small bit of frenzied shaky camera, but it is used to great dramatic effect to the tense scenes that it is shot for. The fight scenes, on the other hand, are handled masterfully. Evans never allows the viewer to feel bored as these fight scenes pop up, utilizing various ways to keep the viewer engaged and enthralled.
This is certainly helped by the actors who are well known in the fighting style used in the film, known as Silat. Iko Uwais, whom Evans has introduced to the world in his previous film Merantau and also the fight choreographer of The Raid, is all presence as the SWAT member that the film mostly focuses on. Heís the clean cut protagonist that, when push comes to shove, will take anybody out to save his fellow SWAT members. If this movie is any indicator, he could rise to the ranks of Tony Jaa or Jackie Chan in due time. The rest of the cast certainly leaves their effect as well, with Yayan Ruhian as the ruthless right hand villain Mad Dog, Joe Talsim as the leading SWAT sergeant whoís simply concerned on the safety of his men, and Ray Sahetapy, who simply oozes smarminess as the head boss of the apartment.
But, the most surprising addition to this film is the newly added soundtrack by Linkin Park front man Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese. Itís soundtrack complements itís preceding scenes extraordinarily well, adding ambience and mood to the lighter or more intense scenes in the film. One track near the end was a burst of energy to an already furious and bloody fight scene, and ratchets up the high tension to an exceeding degree. But as great as the music is handled, itís Gareth Evanís world, and viewers are just experiencing it. Oh, and what an experience it is! The film is as if Evans has seen every high-octane action film, and then went through the process of what it will take to make the audience engaged and enamored with his film. Well, to say it worked would be an understatement, because it works like gangbusters!
The Raid: Redemption is the action film that will leave viewers on an adrenaline high when the credits roll. Itís a film where hyperbole will compliment your feelings when someone asks how what it was, much like what this review is doing right now. Itís just that good an action flick in this day and age, and certainly an incredible experience if the viewer is at a sold out screening.