Toronto: ‘The Raid’ Review

Synopsis: Deep in the heart of Jakarta’s slums lies an impenetrable safe house for the world’s most dangerous killers and gangsters. Until now, the run-down apartment block has been considered untouchable to even the bravest of police. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, an elite swat team is tasked with raiding the safe house in order to take down the notorious drug lord that runs it.

But he’s not going to make it easy for them. He announces on the building’s PA system that any tenants that take care of the “pest” problem, they can live there for free. Junkies and criminals answer the call, and the team of policemen quickly dwindle; it’s up to the remaining few to either go up, and finish the mission, or attempt an escape – both choices feel like suicide missions.

The movie then shows some of the coolest, most unique action scenes I’ve seen for a long while. Many compare the lead actors to Tony Jaa of “Ong-Bak” fame, and with good reason. The first few action sequences are explosive and creative, not to mention absolutely brutal.

This movie began the festival’s Midnight Madness showcase – known for showing films you wouldn’t expect to see at an international film festival with the pedigree that TIFF has (usually horror and action movies), as well as an eccentric audience – and the audience ate it up: cheering after every fight scene.

Unfortunately, the film is somewhat front-loaded, as the best fight scenes take place within the first half of the movie, leaving much to be expected for the second half. The later scenes are still good, but not exceptional, like the first ones. The movie’s plot is paper-thin and cliché – it certainly seems like it was an afterthought, but few action movies deliver on both fronts. Luckily premise is enough to carry the movie – giving justification for the loads of bloodshed.

All of the requisite action movie tropes are represented. And, if twitter comments are anything to go by, “The Raid” was a great choice to start the film festival and delivered on its promise.