When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to "civilize" the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.
Brandon Gerald Fuller,
Lauren Ashley Carter
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An older, reclusive man's best friend is his dog RED. When three teens kill his dog for no reason, the man sets out for justice and redemption within whatever means possible, legal or otherwise. Written by
Lucky McKee was the original director and had been shooting for weeks when he was fired and replaced by Trygve Allister Diesen for unknown reasons. Angela Bettis (a frequent McKee collaborator) was also attached to the project, playing the role of 'Carrie', but was fired and replaced by Kim Dickens for, again, unknown reasons. See more »
An engaging and emotional film that is much better than the "taking law into own hands" genre that the plot suggests it belongs in
Avery Ludlow is retired and has little left in his life but for his dog, his store and his health. He finds simple pleasures in the peace of his life and all the companionship he needs from his dog, Red. Out fishing one day he a trio of teenagers come across him and politely start to trouble him and essentially intimidate money out of him. The leader of the three has a rifle and, for his own reasons, he leaves Avery with a parting gift of shooting Red dead. Avery is grief-stricken and tracks down the teenagers, going direct to the main boy's father to let him deal with it in a manner that will satisfy Avery. However this fails so Avery tries other legal means to get justice for this wrong, however his persistence in this matter makes it a bigger deal for the well-connected family of the man boy.
On the face of it this is a revenge thriller where a man seeks justice and continues to do so even as events escalate in fact, not only on the face of it but indeed that is the narrative arch we are looking at here, no point is pretending to be surprised by it, we all know where we are going with this from when we got on board. However it walks a very impressive line while doing this that prevents it being about the revenge but instead the justice sought, or rather the undefined "action" that Avery seeks someone to hand him that will in some way make up for his loss. This is very well presented because it is clear throughout that ultimately nothing can fill that gap which is part of the reason things continue to build. I very much liked how it did this as it never fell into violence at the expense of the emotional part of the story and it thus keeps it much more engaging than if it had simply because a violent revenge thriller.
Some have said that this is a film for dog lovers as they will appreciate the loss most but I do not think that is true. Although Red is the subject of the loss, it is about more than the dog but also what the dog represents to Avery and as this comes out the scale of his pain and his loss is more engaging and moving. This general feeling of something emotionally valuable being taken unfairly by another is a raw emotion in the film and it was very well done. True it helps to understand the loyal companionship a dog gives a man but even if you don't, the emotion is real and convincing enough to hook you. Praise to Cox for making this work because he is the heart of the film and is the reason we care as much as we do. You can see what attracted him as an actor because the script gives him plenty to work with, including a strong ending that is another part of the film being about the main character's feelings rather than the act of revenge/justice. He acts all others off the screen and the only downside is that everyone else feels weaker than they actually are by comparison.
I thought Fisher and Gallner were both good even if there was room for them to find more of their character and bring it out in ways that were not in the script. Gallner probably does this best as so much of his mannerisms and body language tell you about his place in that family and how he feels his father views him. Sizemore isn't asked to do much but does it fairly well and is a good presence. Riedle, Englund, Plummer, The Wire's Williams and others all give solid accounts of themselves but everyone knows that, while they have lines, Cox has the real character of the piece and mostly they deliver the goods in support without ever shining for more. Considering the budget the film looks great with impressive cinematography and selection/use of locations. You can see where things are implied rather than shown due to money constraints but these do not matter at all and are well done.
Red is not a cheerful film, not is it one that has a "big" ending or impacting telling. Rather it is a patient and slower film that engages thanks to the convincing core of emotion that drives all the action; without this it could have been a simple and emotionally distant revenge thriller. Cox does excellent work to bring this out and produces the goods from the start right to the final scene, while all the others turn in performances that are solidly good. An engaging and emotional film that is much better than the "taking law into own hands" genre that the plot suggests it belongs in.
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