Tuesday, June 5, 2012

6 Short Paragraphs: The Raid: Redemption & Lockout

2011, Gareth Evans -- cinema
2012, James Mather, Stephen St Leger -- cinema

Double bill ! Kent's take here.

Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the movie but unlike Kent, I didn't much care for The Raid: Redemption.  There was the hint of a movie I should love, a small movie, a movie in a closed environment with a very tight focus.  Unfortunately, that focus was about beating the crap out of each other without much concern for the why's or who-cares.  I was expecting a slight rendition of Assault on Precinct 13 or maybe even a building-related human-only version of La Horde, a french zombie movie set in a urban project tower controlled by criminals.  But the trappings of cops raiding the building owned by bad guys was almost a pretense.  It really did not mean much to the plot.

As you probably know, I am completely fine with bare bones plots as long as they are focused on the goal.  If this movie had been only about a group of cops raiding a building to arrest the crime lord and did the floor-by-floor battle, I would have been fine.  But no, they eliminated most of the cops right off the bat and we get stuck with the melodrama between a couple of good cops and a couple of bad cops each with their own idea of why they are raiding the building. But even that decently attractive plot thread is overshadowed by the pounding on each other.  Yeah, I am sure all the mixed martial arts guys were dribbling in their pants over the combat scenes but I found myself just being bored after a few rounds.  The cliche of knocking down one guy, onto the next until a circle completes and the first guy gets back up, just got tired tired  tired.  Or maybe I was tired.  The few times where he (and really, there is one focused character, the survivor) actually took out a foe in two hits, I cheered.  The boss battle seemed like someone was pumping quarters in to no end.  Yes, dated analogy.  Hitting respawn better?

Also... redemption?  There is no redemption.  There may be a turn of events but its all circumstantial and not about redemption at all.  In the end, after all the cops are dead and the last lone hero escapes the building, we are left with the clear idea that it was all for naught -- another crime lord will control the building and lone hero will lead the assault in the sequel.  And there will be a sequel; these movies are often made as if the writer was already eager to write that movie and this was an inconvenience.  Evans may have had a hint of style, I will give him that, but he was also trapped by the melodrama that this genre seems to like to cling to.  Tortured hero, crooked cop and familial connections are common enough, but to be frank I like them when they are even more over the top, so I can get a sense they would end up as part of a cheese-fest for another theatre's double-bill, another night.

Now, speaking of cheese, it was grand to see Felicia Jollygoodfellow bulked up for  a (and really, is there any other comparison) Snake Plisken role !!  Oh, I am sure I could find a few more action flicks in his IMDB listing but none more muscle bound than this one.  Rogue CIA operative framed for the murder of a friend slash coworker sent to sleep away his life in a cryogenic SuperMax prison... in SPACE !!  OK, low earth orbit but I just wanted to say, "in SPACE !!"  Hee.  This is a movie that really embraces the cheese factor it could only know it was going to emit.  Hell, it is another Luc Besson vehicle so I guess it's pretty much expected.

Yes, a prison in orbit filled with the lowest, nastiest most evil criminal element all frozen into scum-sicles.  Enter "the president's daughter" investigating the place for violations of human rights -- the scum-sicles seem to occasionally wake up crazier than before they went to sleep.  Oops.  But we get an even worse oopsy-daisy when a key interview candidate gets the upper hand and frees all his buddies, and his brother.  Joseph Gilgun dominated the scenery for me.  I know him better as the crassest character on Misfits but he is transformed into this cyberpunk, psycho irishman with an accent that probably was subtitled in the US.  Almost all the rest of the released criminals were set dressing in orange though the brother (Vincent Regan) does carry some dramatic weight of intelligence amidst all the brain-deads.

The movie is really just about Pearce cutting one liners while doing his best tough guy impression. He is skilled enough to know he can accomplish the goal (get the daughter, get out) and heroic enough to handle the no-win scenario.  We get cliche creative deaths, tit-for-tat between rogue & daughter and... well, we also get a lot of really badly done CGI.  It was as if they spent it all on something else (sets?  sure wasn't the script) and were left with early 2000s computer work.  And at the end, when we should get an exciting, over the top escape by parachuting from orbit (yes, you read that right) we get low-grade Star Wars (huh?  don't find key points, just blow the fucker up from a distance !!) and a rush to the "now we are safe on the ground and kissing" scene.  Wait, how did they get down and rescued by EMTs?  Did I blink?  But still, I laughed, I cringed, I enjoyed myself.  And woke up from the first movie.