THE RAID: REDEMPTION ***
By GUY FLATLEY
Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Satrya, Iang Darmawan, Eka Rahmadia, Verdi Solaiman (Written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans; Sony Pictures Classics)
The hero of this spectacular thriller set in Muslim controlled Indonesia is a strong, lithe rookie cop played by real-life martial arts superstar Iko Uwais. In the nervous-making montage that sets the film in motion we observe the lone figure named Rama as he spiritually transcends the threatening shadows of his apartment and makes a robust one-on-one plea for help from his god. At the end of the prayer, we are rushed into another room, one in which the man of law and order is far more physical than spiritual as he engages in a punishing, nearly maniacal work-out. Having sweated and winced through so much stress so fast, we can now relax and follow this body-and-soul young man into his bedroom, where he tenderly kisses his visibly pregnant wife goodbye before packing his weapon and reporting for perilous duty.
So much for relaxation. Now the presumably secret, possibly impossible mission gets underway. Rama and his meticulously trained buddies face the monstrous challenge of infiltrating a huge, tightly guarded apartment complex owned and sadistically ruled by the slimiest, most savagely lethal drug kingpin in all of Indonesia. I don’t think I’ll be ruining anything for you by revealing that most of that special training lavished on the poor policemen turns out to have been a pitiful waste of time and before the first day of the wannabe siege has drawn to an end, Rama is just about the only good guy left alive.
But you’d better believe there will be more blood. And if you are opposed to the graphic depiction of violence on screen, even if it’s been crafted by the likes of Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers, you should steer clear of this roaring, swirling, punching, slashing, bizarre storm of a movie. On the other hand, I look forward to the next offering of director Gareth Huw Evans, a Scotsman who was obviously born to make movies. Let’s hope the next one is as fast, daring and riveting as "Raid: Redemption" and that it reunites him with the charismatic Iko Uwais.