Few films could ever match the level of brutality on display in Gareth Evans’s The Raid. Right from the first few minutes it proves to be an astoundingly visceral piece of cinema, which horrifies and enthrals in equal measure.
Sure, the plot is nonsense and the acting is cheesy, but it is undeniably entertaining and meticulously crafted.
The Raid follows an Indonesian SWAT team’s attempt to take down a crime lord. However what starts out as a simple invasion ends up becoming a desperate struggle to escape from a crime-ridden high rise.
Everything in this film is over the top; from the overly-dramatic close ups to the thudding, synth-filled soundtrack. Yet this element of melodrama is what makes it so gripping, with the audience revelling in its absurdity. After one particularly hectic scene the theatre even broke out into a spontaneous applause.
Dynamic cinematography injects an extraordinary amount of energy, almost leaving us gasping for breath. The camera is constantly on the move, capturing the many gory deaths or whirling about in one of the amazingly choreographed fight scenes. Evans’ directorial skill is dazzling, forming a master class in frenetic filmmaking.
Unfortunately, odd changes in pace curb the film’s impact. Whilethe first half is a pulse-pounding adrenaline rush, the second half drags as Evans tries to mix in a hammy narrative. Thrilling fights are intercut with exposition scenes, dulling the film’s appeal. It doesn’t break the movie but it’s still a jarring shift from the initial break-neck pace.
If you take issue with extreme violence or films that prefer style over substance, then avoid The Raid. If not then this film will exhilarate you in a way that most other action films fail to do. It’s ridiculous and shallow, but all the more glorious for it.