We woke to the sounds of faraway explosions this fine, snowy morning as the ski patrol people were blowing things up on the mountains to create mini-avalanches. This is a new and exciting thing for people who lived in NYC during 9/11, but ski towns are strange and wondrous places. The bus I hopped on was piloted by a fellow with the chillest temperament ever, even though it was icier than the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno out there. In any case, I got to my first screening safe and sound.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as an eccentric piano genius who has to take care of his drug-addled mom Penny (Melissa Leo) and little sister (Emma Rayne Lyle) instead of following his dreams. As Eli, Eisenberg is definitely still the bundle of nerves we all know and love but he's got a badass side to him, too, or at least a nervier side that has him translating drug deals in Spanish for his mom's drug dealer Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan) and crashing a local jock's party, only to puke on his living room floor. Isiah Whitlock Jr. appears as Sprinkles' brother Black, and my fave "Law and Order: SVU" alum and fellow Dallasite Stephanie March plays Penny's understandably wary sister.
Like usual, I went into this movie blind. I knew that it was an ultra-violent action movie from Indonesia that everyone was raving about, but that's about it. The conceit is simple: a crime lord owns an entire apartment building and rents out apartments to criminals who also help him protect his domain. A police lieutenant leads a SWAT team in to ostensibly take down the bad guy, but it's never that simple -- and it's definitely not bloodless. Martial arts man-about-town Iko Uwais kicks all of the ass as Rama, an officer with a baby on the way and a mission of his own. I scrawled in my trusty Moleskine "so many bullets," and not much later, "soooo many bullets!" Not just bullets, though, but machetes, bare hands, axes, nunchuks, and even an exploding refrigerator, all set to a throbbing soundtrack.
So, how was it that all this action made my eyes glaze over? The thin plot isn't an excuse, really, as I've enjoyed much dumber movies much more, so I can only guess that perhaps I just reached some sort of sensory overload that caused me to zone out. The Raid struck me as a sort of homage to Quentin Tarantino's love for John Woo, and while that's not really my bag, plenty of people loved it, including Christopher Campbell, whose opinion I always respect. There's even already talk of a remake.
I'm heading out soon to catch the midnight premiere of Black Rock, and I will hopefully not get eaten by any yetis.