If you go into the theatre expecting a film with a plot, or any form of elaboration on the basic main storyline, or anything resembling human characters, you’ll be grossly disappointed. The nicest way to put this is to say that watching The Raid doesn’t involve any intellectual or emotional stimulation. But your nervous system? That’s a whole different story because all The Raid does is essentially force its audience into an eternal state of twitching and squirming and grabbing the armrests and groaning like the men who are being slaughtered in the film.
It would, however, be unfair to Gareth Evans to criticize his film for the weaknesses of its screenplay because he does so much else right that in the end, one wonders if a better script wouldn’t actually hurt the film. If we are to enjoy watching a man with a light bulb stuck in his neck do flip kicks, wouldn’t any emotional commitment to the characters or even any type of thinking just get in the way of our pleasure?
The Raid is, in a way, only a filmmaking exercise solely aimed at enticing the audience with intense action, careful camera work that alternates exquisitely between rapid pans and deliberate tracks, and engaging sound work that adds so much to the film beyond all the yelling and screaming. For an audience, too, it is an exercise to prove who can sit through more gore before they finally cave and cover their eyes at some point. It’s a ruler for guys to measure their dicks against each other – figuratively speaking, of course, though I’d wager that an overwhelming majority of the film’s audience is male.
The most surprising thing about The Raid is that it has actually stayed with me for a while. You might not feel like you’ve taken anything away from the film once the curtain closes, but if action films are your cup of tea, you’ll have a great two hours at the theatre and you’ll be thinking about its little details long after. This is the best action film to come since... oh, god knows when.