[This is a reprint of my review of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The movie, now entitled The Raid: Redemption, opens tomorrow in limited release.]
A good action movie is not simply throwing every single bullet, punch, slice, and explosion into a blender and dumping it onto a screen so it can punch you in the adrenaline gland. It has to be finessed. There has to be tension—the wind-up to the hit, the pull of the hammer. The Raid: Redemption writer-director Gareth Evans knows how to deliver some of the most magnificent action scenes in years, but more importantly, he knows how to build to those scenes. Working off a bare-bones, serviceable plot and characters built more for their fists than their personalities, The Raid is an action feast that keeps finding new ways to dish out inventive kills and fights, and keeps its blood-thirsty audience cheering.