The Raid is a lean, mean, action movie. The 2011 Indonesian hit, written and directed by Gareth Evans, strips all the filler out of its story of a Jakartan Mobile Brigade squad attempting the capture of a vicious crime lord ruling over a dilapidated tenement. Things go awry as soon as they arrive, and what follows is 101 minutes of operatic violence. It’s so graphic even I flinched a few times, though I could never look away. Positive reviews and word of mouth generated a cult following and almost $10 million in US DVD and Blu-Ray sales despite its limited theatrical release. It inspired an equally successful sequel and any number of carbon copies and homages, such as John Wick 3.
Now, because we can’t have anything nice, Netflix is remaking the movie for American audiences. Gareth Evans is on board as EP, but Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Expendables 3) will write and direct, and (ugh) Michael Bay will produce. That’s not a pair to inspire confidence, particularly with Netflix involved. As a production company, Netflix has created scores of bland, nearly colorless action movies indistinguishable from one another. The plots are bogged down by exposition and absurd dialogue, the stars interchangeable as the GI Joes in a kid’s sandbox. With the sole exception of The Old Guard, Netflix’s one smashing success, I can’t tell any of them apart.
Patrick Hughes’s record isn’t much better. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an entertaining movie held up by stellar performances by Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and of course Selma Hayek. The sequel was so bad Roxana called it “a movie that convinced me time had slowed to a crawl and captured me in its malevolent molasses grip,” while Expendables 3 demonstrates the Law of Diminishing Returns so clearly that it should be required viewing for any film criticism class. And, well, we all know what (ugh) Michael Bay’s done. The remake, according to Deadline, “… is set in Philadelphia’s drug-infested “Badlands,” where an elite undercover DEA task force climbs a ladder of cartel informants to catch an elusive kingpin.”
The ways this could go very wrong outnumber the ways it could go right. By a lot. First off, I’m pretty sure the most violent thing to happen in low-income, post-WWII Philadelphia is still the time it was bombed by the cops. It won’t look great if we get a predominately white DEA squad invading Philly tenements in search of a crime kingpin in these days of increasing recreational drug legality. Plus, The Raid works so well because it’s not padded with the moralizing, exposition, and B-plots American studios seem to think audiences want. Not to mention its stars were actual martial artists, not untrained movie stars aided by quick cuts and CGI.
No word yet on a cast or release date, but when there is I’ll bitch about it some more.