Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 9:27 a.m.
The Indonesian action movie The Raid: Redemption has become a sensation on the film-festival circuit thanks to the impressive moves of its star Iko Uwais, who practices the Indonesian martial art of silat, and the slick, propulsive style of Welsh director Gareth Evans. Although Uwais is indeed a striking presence (often literally), and The Raid is stylishly shot, as an action movie it’s pretty rudimentary. The plot is so basic as to be nearly nonexistent: There are a bunch of criminals who are all conveniently holed up in one apartment building. The cops arrive to raid the building, take down the bad guys and capture the leader, who is camped out on the top floor. Cue fight scenes.
There’s a little more to it than that, mostly having to do with the do-gooder hero (Uwais) having a secret connection to the criminals, but any plot points exist only to push the movie on to the next fight scene. The big firefights at the beginning of the movie are confusing jumbles, with the identically dressed cops, all wearing helmets, nearly impossible to tell apart. Thankfully, most of them get killed pretty quickly, and Evans narrows the focus to a handful of one-dimensional characters.
Action fans probably won’t care about the thin plotting and characterization, and Evans stages a few genuinely exciting sequences. But the relentless badassery gets monotonous after a while, especially when it doesn’t have anything tying it together. Uwais is a decent screen presence in addition to being a top-notch martial artist, and The Raid does a good job of introducing his talents to the world. Now he just needs to be in a movie whose storytelling is as solid as his moves.