Thursday, April 12, 2012

This 'Raid' is one big bruising blur

Wreaking havoc in a tenement in Indonesia.
Movies that traffic in exaggerated violence have been known to serve up smorgasbords of brutally intense fun.

The Raid: Redemption, a film set in an Indonesian tenement and directed by Welsh-born Gareth Huw Evans, has some of the desired intensity, but comes up way short in the fun department.

Blame the movie's non-stop action, which tends to feel as numbing and meaningless as a routine story in which an elite SWAT team invades a shabby apartment building run by an Indonesian drug lord. I have no martial arts knowledge, but I do know that The Raid: Redemption delivers a pounding that often feels more relentless than artful.

Rama (Iko Uwais) -- the movie's ostensible main character -- is a young cop who bids his pregnant wife farewell on an early morning, and heads off to join his fellow officers for the raid.

The object: to take down Tama (Ray Sahetapy), the calm but vicious drug lord who runs the hotel/apartment complex which serves as headquarters for the drug trade and which also houses a few innocents who have nothing to do with criminal activity.

Judging by the increasingly shattered look of the already dilapidated building, the residents of will be lucky to make it out alive, much less get their damage deposits back.

The screenplay tries for a little depth, adding bits of story involving betrayal and brotherly conflict, but all that really counts here is the floor-by-floor battle for turf.

As is the case with many martial arts movies, bodies are abused in ways that defy every thing we know about human flesh and bone. At one point, a man's head repeatedly is smashed into a concrete floor. Rather than being carted off to the morgue, the fellow rises to resume fighting.

No one expects total verisimilitude in movies as wild as this, but it's difficult to locate a rooting interest amid Raid's highly compressed blr of bullets and flying bodies. For all its amped-up violence, Raid Redemption offers far too little invigorating kick.

No comments: