Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah
Directed by: Gareth Evans (“Merantau”)
Written by: Gareth Evans (“Merantau”)

After a raid of an apartment building owned by a dangerous crime lord is botched, a SWAT team is ambushed and find themselves having to fight their way out in “The Raid: Redemption,” a visually stimulating, adrenaline-fueled film from Indonesia that puts a driving narrative and character development aside in exchange for pure action.

Simply put, “The Raid: Redemption” is an assault on the senses. Not only is the carnage virtually non-stop, but it is also presented in a very visceral way. There’s lots of interesting camera movement and long takes coupled with a whole host of sounds including rapid-fire ammunition, the thundering thud and bone-cracking of hand-to-hand combat, constant primal screaming, and the loud and sometimes overbearing score from Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. Fortunately for “The Raid,” the action is strong enough to carry the entire movie. There are great firefights, vicious kills, and most importantly, some pretty impressive fight choreography courtesy of lead actor Iko Uwais. None of the many fight sequences are more impressive than those in which Uwais finds himself outnumbered and must waste large groups of assassins to get out alive.

While the film is not as brain-dead as some action movies can be, there is very little to speak of in terms of emotional pull or character development. Though the film has a clearly defined protagonist in Rama (Uwais), not much effort is given into making him or any other character complex or engrossing. In fact, there are only a couple of brief and unmemorable scenes in the entire film that humanize Rama. Along the same lines, there is not much story development to speak. As soon as the tables are turned on the SWAT team, the rest of the film is essentially spent watching those who are left try to escape. Of course, there are a few twists and turns along the way, but they are ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of the film.

Fans of bullets, beat downs and bloodshed should walk out of the theater more than pleased, as “The Raid” packs more brutality than the average action film. But beware, lovers of mayhem: this is all you’re going to get. While Welsh director Gareth Evans shows off an impressive ability to shoot action sequences creatively, he still has a long way to go when it comes to constructing a fully formed and well-nuanced film.

This film was screened as a part of SXSW 2012.

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