Friday, February 20, 2009

Movie Review: Red (2008)

Jack Ketchum's RED featuring Tom Sizemore
Written by Stephen Susco
Based on a Book by Jack Ketchum
Directed by Trygve Allister Diesen and Lucky McKee

Avery Ludlow...Brian Cox
Carrie Donnel...Kim Dickens
Danny...Noel Fisher
Harold...Kyle Gallner
Pete...Shiloh Fernandez

It's a fresh take on an old theme: THE MAN WHO WAS PUSHED TOO FAR!

Avery Ludlow, the owner of the local general store, is enjoying a lazy fishing trip with his old canine pal Red. A trio of teenagers arrive on the scene, initially making innocent enough small talk that carries a menacing glow beneath it. It quickly spirals out of control, however, with their ringleader Danny waving his shotgun around and demanding payment. Avery offers them his fish...he offers them his money...he even offers them his truck. But, without provocation, they shoot old Red. And that's something that Avery isn't about to take sitting down.

He first tries the responsible route, locating the boys parents and informing them of what their sons have done. Next he tries the long arm of the law, but it doesn't extend as far as he needs. Then he moves on to the media with his reporter friend Carrie, broadcasting his story on the evening news. When all of this comes to naught, and it becomes evident that these boys will not be held accountable for what they have done, he takes matters into his own hands.

He takes to following the boys, trying to frighten them into admitting what they've done. But they're not going to break easily--probably because they're already broken. Things get out of hand in a hurry, and we're swept into a whirlwind of violence and vengeance.

At first, Avery may have been out only for justice. But in time, it became vengeance he was seeking. It's also clear that he's not just gunning for Danny. Danny is also acting as a surrogate for his own son, Billy, who was even more dangerous and unstable than Danny ever was. It wasn't just his dog that was killed--it was a symbol of everything that was taken from him and the only thing that he had left.

It takes quite a bit of talent to make a horror/revenge story emotionally moving, but this movie truly manages to do just that. The tragedy of this man's history tugs at your heart, even more impressive when you consider that none of it was ever shown, only recounted through dialogue. Because of all this, you become deeply emotionally invested in this character, and you want all of the dirty bastards to pay. But, just like real life, when they do, it changes nothing. Dead is still dead, and our souls are just a little darker because of it. I guess that's the difference between justice and vengeance. When you get justice, your hands are clean but you just may be wishing you had done something more. When you get vengeance, your hands are dirty, and you wish you hadn't taken it quite so far. Kudos for playing it real, and allowing Avery to see this, too, upon reflection of his actions.

All the stars did a marvelous job--Tom Sizemore and Robert England included, both playing less-than-concerned fathers--and the writing and directing was top notch (and impressively seamless, considering the filmmakers switched directors part way through shooting). My only complaint is that the wrap up of the story was a bit too...Turner and Hooch, shall we say? But it did little if anything to diminish my enjoyment of this extraordinary film.

A must see.

Rated R
93 Minutes
United States


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