The Raid

4 April 2012 | 5:14 pm | Ian Barr

The Raid is absolutely hysterical, in the best sense of the term. Essentially two hours of kicking, punching, stabbing, shooting and pained screaming/moaning that should make even the most desensitised viewers cringe, it's also the most virtuosic example of straight-up action filmmaking in many a moon. You'd have to go back to John Woo's Hard-Boiled from 1992 to find the last benchmark nonstop-actioner, but even Woo's bar-raising violence and balletically-staged action set pieces practically vanish in comparison to this new Indonesian film from Irish ex-pat director Gareth Evans.

The film hinges on a simple premise, possibly picked out of a hat; a SWAT team are called to take down a ruthless crime lord in a decrepit tenement building. That the narrative is so threadbare is no matter, though; what Evans and his athletic cast (and crew) offer is a string of action sequences so visceral that theatres would do well to equip themselves with cameras to record the dumb looks of shock on each audience member's face. (My favourite wince-moment: the dude who gets thrown throat down on the jagged wood of a broken door-frame).

Indeed, The Raid's violence is something best experienced communally. It has the power to unite audiences in the collective gasps and nervous giggles it elicits. And its action scenes are also fluidly filmed and shockingly coherent, letting shots linger just long enough for the maximum bone-crunching impact. You may leave the theatre exhausted and depleted by the time the LOUD GUITARS blare over the end credits, but you can't say you didn't get your money's worth.