The Raid: Redemption is BADASS!

That is the only word that fits to describe Indonesian martial arts action film The Raid: Redemption.  It is a seriously badass film!  A rush of fists and fury. A non stop adrenaline ride.  I was left breathless and ready to kick some serous ass!  Hi-Ya!  (Sorry, that always happens to me after watching these kinds of movies–if I could even remotely execute the moves I love, I would be dangerous! ;))

I was a little concerned (after seeing the trailer) that the film would be all action and carnage and zero plot and/or character development–which to me is a deal breaker.

Don’t get me wrong–I like senseless action, at times, and will judge accordingly–but to be great, you must have, what I call, the John McClane factor. Most of you will understand this right away and agree that the JMC factor is the key to success.  It is the principle that the audience must relate to the protagonist, feel for him, cheer for him and most importantly…like him.  If this happens–the audience will follow him anywhere and be invested in his outcome.  Result? Die Hard X5.  And one of the greatest action heroes of all time!

Well, in a short period, The Raid accomplishes this. You feel for Iko Uwais‘ Rama, the rookie unsuspecting SWAT officer that is about to have the worse day of his life.  Writer/Director Gareth Evans knows his genre well and is able to create a believable universe within the walls of this building.  Evans expertly weaves character development throughout the action.  When he pauses to give you a break (because you need it), he fills that space with substance.  I am now anxiously awaiting the trilogy that is in the works because I want to follow Rama’s journey–I care about his outcome.  JMC factor is in full play here–excellent!

What else is there to say?  Oh, yeah!  The Raid also features one of the best henchman I’ve seen in a long time.  Enter Mad Dog–played perfectly by Yayan RuhianWow–is all I will say…he is crazy awesome!

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I should also mention the soundtrack by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Joseph Trapanese is perfect.  And lastly, I have to mention the fight choreography, which is insane!  The fighting sequences which were designed by Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian are some of the most intense I have seen.  These guys are the real deal!

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If you like this kind of thrill ride and the trailer gets you excited–run to your nearest theater! And be warned…you may come out swinging! 🙂

 

 

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Safe House ends up being predictable and a waste of talent

Safe House proves a theory that I have–it does not matter how fine an actor you may have (and there are a few in this film) a movie can sink without a strong script. We have seen it before–Troy, Public Enemies and it is the truth when it comes to this film.  It has great performances–okay fight sequences–an interesting premise–and yet, none of it adds up to much because it’s all too familiar and fails to impress.  Actually, you forget about it as soon as the credits roll. 

The screenplay is the backbone of any feature, which is why I follow screenwriters as much as I do actors and directors.  Christopher Nolan? I’m there.  Aaron Sorkin? Done.  Brit Marling? I’m game.  Newcomer David Guggenheim almost had something here…almost. Unfortunately, he falls victim to predictability.  Okay, for the masses this may work and Safe House has performed decently in the box office. But for those of us with pickier taste, it is too easy–too familiar.  Guggenheim follows the “formula” too closely and there are NO surprises.  At one point I thought “That can’t be right? That’s too simple and glaringly apparent!”  But, nope it was that simple.  Deep sigh. 

It is a sad waste of a great cast.  Denzel Washington does the best he can with what he has, but again…not much there.  Ryan Reynolds is underrated and quite good (check out Buried and The Nines if you doubt it) and has nothing to do here.  Brendan Gleeson, who is one of my favorite character actors (The Guard is brilliant!), is poorly used.  Vera Farmiga, who I think is one of our strongest female leads, is given nothing.  You can see the theme running through this–nothing–wasted–yeah…it is sad.

This is Swedish director Daniel Espinosa first American film and with the box office numbers I am sure he will get another chance to direct in the US.  I have not seen his first film Easy Money, but have heard good things.  Espinosa does a fine job with what he has to work with.  He can create tension and has a good eye for details, but again–that is all wasted.  🙂

So, bottom line? You can go watch Safe House and you will more than likely be engaged for almost 2 hours, but that’s about it.  Yeah. You know what I am going to say…it’s a waste.