Underachieving police officer Jo dreams of joining RAID, an elite unit she envisions as living out the action movie lifestyle she fantasises about. When she is repeatedly rejected on account of her uncontrollable clumsiness, her politician father pulls strings to get her into training, thinking its intensity will dissuade her. Unfortunately, it only has the opposite effect and gives Jo the opportunity to prove her detractors wrong.
There is nobody in the world who does farcical comedy quite like the French, and Raid: Special Unit is another in a long line of movies marrying serious subject matter (in this case Balkan terrorists terrorising Paris) with knockabout antics.
Jo is an endearing character whose perpetual cheerfulness makes you root for her in spite of her numerous faults and clear unsuitability for the position she desperately wants to attain. Her good-natured personality and willingness to believe the best of everyone might make her a nice person, but severely blunts her instincts as a police officer, and also results in her remaining rather sweetly oblivious of why and just how much her new hyper-masculine teammates enjoy having a tall, curvy and attractive woman to share a physical routine with.
Alice Pol, a popular French actress from a number of comedy movies, puts in another game performance as Jo, her talent for timing and physical comedy (not to mention willingness to be the butt of much of the film’s humour) keeping her heroine appealing even when she repeatedly sets herself up for failure. However, pratfalls can only entertain up to a point, and when Jo’s cluelessness ends up genuinely putting her colleagues’ lives in danger it limits the extent to which you can truly empathise with her.
The bulk of the characterisation consists of interaction between Jo and training instructor Gene (writer and director Dany Boon), who has been driven to misogyny after a bitter split with his wife and constantly attempts to prove Jo a liability purely on account of her being a woman, which of course leads to a mutual respect gradually growing between the pair. There is also a wavering sub-plot of Jo’s deteriorating relationship with her fiancé, which is never properly developed and later on is only resuscitated in order to be swiftly resolved.
RAID: Special Unit is a lot of fun to begin with, but its simple setup doesn’t have the substance to sustain it for the length of an entire film, and by the time the plot pulls itself along to its inevitable conclusion it feels like it has spent too long not really going anywhere.
RAID: SPECIAL UNIT / CERT: TBA / DIRECTOR: DANY BOON / SCREENPLAY: DANY BOON, SARAH KAMINSKY / STARRING: ALICE POL, DANY BOON, MICHEL BLANC, YVAN ATTAL, SABINE AZÉMA / RELEASE DATE: TBA
Expected Rating: 6/10