As rookie police officer Rama (Iko Uwais) prepares for his day, he goes through the usual action-movie-montagey steps: He does pull-ups, hits a heavy bag and practices the precise moves of Indonesian martial-arts style pencak silat. He kisses his pretty pregnant wife goodbye. And he prays to Allah.
Rama’s Muslim faith is incidental to the plot of Gareth Huw Evans’ movie, which focuses on the pow-pow combat between a Jakarta SWAT team and the swarm of killers they unearth during a raid. Still, Rama’s faith makes him both similar and dissimilar to those American action-movie cops who keep Bibles on their night tables. He’s introduced with a sign of where he’s from, one that shapes your understanding of the grand heroics he’s about to perform. But these heroics are generic, and then some. You might call the choreography relentless, but it’s also tremendously entertaining, as, going floor to floor with various associates, Rama learns not only that his lieutenant (Pierre Gruno) is corrupt, but that the bad guys range from monstrous leader Tama (Ray Sahetapy) to Tama’s kill-happy tenants, armed with guns, machetes and long, stringy hair.
Rama is a standard moral center, the guy who makes the right decisions and makes them work. He’s handsome and quietly charismatic; the bloody cuts on his face only enhance his striking cheekbones. He’s not conflicted about his Muslim faith, he’s built on it. Even as Evans and Uwais are planning two more films in a proposed trilogy, the distributor, Screen Gems (a subsidiary of Sony), is negotiating for the rights to remake the film. We can only guess how the generic heroics will be changed.