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An older, reclusive man, Avery, (Brian Cox) has a best friend in his dog RED. When three teens kill Red for no reason, Avery sets out for justice and redemption, attempting to follow the letter of the law. But when the law fails him, and the boys' father (Tom Sizemore) clearly defines right and wrong in his own way, Avery must use whatever means possible.
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Men with this perspective are far rarer today, but some are still out there. In Red, one such older man named Avery, played by Brian Cox, has an old dog named Red. While he is fishing, three teens come upon him in the woods. They try to rob him, but he has nothing of value, so, in annoyance, a teen named Danny shoots Red. Avery finds out who the shooter is (from the local gunshop owner) and goes to meet the boy’s father. All he wants is for Danny to acknowledge what he did and to express remorse. Instead, Danny smugly denies everything and his father – a completely amoral wheeler-dealer who surely believes Avery but doesn’t care so long as he can’t prove it – throws Avery out. Another of the teens is Danny’s brother, who is remorseful but too scared of Danny and dad to cross them. The working-class parents of the third teen are just as unhelpful. Meantime, we learn of some terrible things in Avery’s recent past that explain much of his current behavior.
Since this movie is based on a Jack Ketchum novel, we know things will escalate into bloodshed. Avery persists in pressing the point. He never initiates violence but when threatened with it he doesn't retreat. It all culminates in an ending that is disturbing and satisfying – and disturbing that it is satisfying.
performance of an older man who, while fishing one day, is accosted by 3 spoiled brat teens who attempt to rob him, and when
discovering he has very little money, one of them shoots his dog and kills it. The film then is about Cox's attempts to get some
justice and satisfaction, not by getting even, but by getting to the bottom of it, finding out who the teens were, and having them
punished. But of course, today, parents tend to defend their offspring, no matter how despicable their acts were, denying that
they were capable of doing this and the accuser must be mistaken. It reminds me of parents who take their kids side in all school
disputes with teachers or administrators. As Cox's frustration grows, the situations gradually lead to tragedy, where no one is
really a winner. Excellent film will keep intelligent viewers engrossed from start to finish.
RED isn't a film designed to "entertain" us viewers; instead, it is carefully organized to make us think about a serious, real-life matter--and then it leaves it up to us to reach our own conclusions. By NOT providing us with any "official solution," the film deliberately creates a kind of "thought vacuum" in our minds that we want to fill with the best answers we can.
As everyone probably knows already, the specific instances of antisocial behavior here are (1) the attempted robbery of an old man by a spoiled teenage boy with a shotgun and (2) the gratuitous killing of that man's old dog. When the old man attempts to get "justice" (a simple apology from the teenager who pulled the trigger would satisfy him), he runs into an array of obstacles of all sorts. And then "things" get much worse. And even worse--until two people are badly wounded, and two more are dead.
And then Avery, the old man, does some soul-searching. And a brief, happier scene is presented as the ending.
Yes, the issue is important, and this film can be used as a basis for a serious family discussion. The "extra features" include intelligent comments by actor Brian Cox which are relevant to such a discussion. (They also include a few "deleted scenes" which most viewers will be glad WERE deleted.)
In my opinion, the script is quite good (deserving a strong "B+" grade); the acting is VERY uneven (deserving about a middling "B" grade); and the production values, especially the camera work, are rather weak and amateurish (deserving around a "C-" grade).
If these factors are weighted equally, the film would get a "B-"; but if you personally tend to put more emphasis on one or two of these factors, then you might move the overall final grade somewhat higher or lower than that.
As for me, I'm a grandparent in my 70s--I've already raised my kids. I know what my own parents did that worked for me and my kid sister, and I THINK I know what I occasionally did right as far as my own children are concerned. But I'll let the film have its way with you--and let YOU reach your own conclusions.
Soft spoken and non-confrontational, Avery is bullied by three boys while he is out fishing. When one of the little psychopaths, angry because Avery doesn't have anything of value to steal, shoots Red in the head, Avery begins a campaign to make the boys, then the boys' parents, take responsibility for the action.
Avery is driven by events in his own past, by the knowledge that when bad behavior by children is not addressed, terrible things can happen. There are no easy answers here, sometimes good parents can find themselves dealing with an inexplicably bad child. Sometimes bad parents can facilitate monsters. And in either case there is little help from society in preventing atrocity, or awarding justice to victims.
Thoughtful script, and solid work by the entire cast: Cox has so much depth; Sizemore and Fisher as father and son psychopaths deliver the highest creep factor; Robert Englund was marvelous as a shifty, out of work redneck.