The Raid follows a team of cops, including Iko Uwais’ Rama, as they storm a rundown building occupied by dozens of killers and thugs, with the film, for the most part, detailing the bloodshed that naturally ensues as the cops make their way deeper and deeper into the perilous tenement. It’s a strong, almost foolproof premise that’s squandered virtually from the word go by filmmaker Gareth Evans, as the writer/director’s inability to offer up a single compelling or interesting character immediately prevents the viewer from embracing the simple narrative. (This is despite the fact that the film’s central antagonist is promisingly described as a “maniac of feet and fists.”) Far more problematic, however, is the movie’s complete lack of engrossing action sequences, as Evans has infused such moments with a hopelessly incoherent sensibility – eg shaky camerawork, rapid-fire editing, etc – that proves disastrous. And although it’s difficult not to get a kick out of the creativity that’s been hard-wired into certain interludes, one can’t help but feel that many of the movie’s high-octane moments could (and should) have been so much better (ie imagine what a competent filmmaker, a John McTiernan or a Peter Hyams, say, could have accomplished with this material). It’s consequently not terribly surprising to note that The Raid grows more and more interminable as time progresses, which ultimately does ensure that the hero’s climactic battle with the aforementioned antagonist falls disappointingly flat. The end result is a woefully underwhelming piece of work that stands as further proof that the action genre is dead (or, at the very least, dying), which is certainly a shame given the strength of the initial setup and of Uwais and Yayan Ruhian’s innovative fight choreography.
** out of ****