on September 26, 2008
I can't comment on the DVD because I only saw the screener for this movie but that makes no difference, except if I wanted to judge the quality of the transfer in terms of video and audio fidelity.
Red made official selection for the Sundance Film Festival and deservedly so. Director Lucky McKee's telling of a man seeking justice for the murder of his dog is emotionally gripping yet ultimately satisfying in a Death Wish sort of way. The film works in terms of its directing and acting, which made me feel it's the best independent movie I've seen in a long time and possibly the best movie of 2008--period!
Robert Englund's performance, though short, was dead on. I think he's really come far as an actor. I found his portrayal of an unemployed carpenter, who happens to be the father of one of the three teens who shot Ludlow's dog, to be very convincing. He's matured as an actor and should do more roles outside of horror.
Tom Sizemore does a good job playing the evil father of the boy who shot the dog. He's your typical hunter-businessman who beats his wife and rules his household with authority. In other words, his morality is always at an all-time low.
Brian Cox, of course, stole the show with his role as the owner of Red. As a viewer, I felt convinced that he really lost his dog. In fact, so much so, that it got to the point where I wanted to jump into the television screen and help him get those suckers.
I will definitely own the DVD when it comes out. I can't imagine not adding this to my collection.
If you own a dog and think of it as being more than just a dog, perhaps more like a member of your family, you'll find this a difficult watch but bearable.
Those who are for animal rights in all forms will definitely find that your quota of vengeance will have been filled after seeing this poignant film.
Though many may argue the point, best-selling author Jack Ketchum (nom de plume of Dallas Mayr) is a writer of frightening horror novels. However, unlike high-profile genre authors like Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, and Dean Koontz, Ketchum only occasionally writes about horrors that arise from fictional supernatural realms. More often than not, his novels focus on the horrors that arise from within the ranks of the human race, and the "monsters" in his novels, which are sometimes inspired by real people and actual events, can be the babysitter next door, privileged kids from a wealthy family, or an ex-girlfriend. After reading a Ketchum novel, one often comes away feeling as if there's some truth to the old adage that we humans are our own worst enemies.
The 2008 indie film RED, based on the Ketchum novel of the same name, tells the story of how Avery Ludlow, a small-town shopkeeper, seeks justice after a trio of rich kids shoot his beloved dog out of spite during an attempted robbery. Getting nowhere with the police, the boys' parents, or the media, Ludlow takes matters into his own hands and tries to extract a simple apology from the boys. Being people of privilege, the boys and the wealthy, influential father of two of them react as if they are above the law--which, in effect, they are--and instead of offering an apology, they do things that only compound the transgressions against Ludlow...with ultimately fatal consequences.
Although RED was co-directed by Lucky McKee, who is better known for his horror movies, the film treats the subject with much more realism and sensitivity than is found in the average horror fare. This is partly due to the excellent performances that McKee and his co-director, Trygve Allister Diesen, draw from their experienced cast. In the role of Ludlow, oft under-appreciated actor Brian Cox--who won accolades for playing audience favorite Dr. Hannibal Lecktor [sic] in Michael Mann's MANHUNTER (1986) long before Anthony Hopkins assumed the role in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)--creates a complex, multi-layered character who simply wants his transgressors to understand the depth and repercussions of their senseless act. Playing Danny, the sociopathic leader of the privileged delinquents, Noel Fisher is truly frightening. And in supporting roles that cast them against their usual horror-show types, actors Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger in the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series) and Amanda Plummer (star of numerous horror and SF movies, among other things) are quite convincing as the incredulous but befuddled parents of one of the boys.
Another thing that raises RED above the standard revenge movie is the fact that, at the film's denouement, Avery Ludlow comes to question the ultimate value and morality of his own actions. Although the boys are clearly wrong in their transgressions against Ludlow and deserve to be punished, and in spite of the fact that Ludlow is undoubtedly entitled to some level of legal recompense, Ludlow nonetheless feels responsible for the fatalities that result from his seeking of justice. His self-doubt brings into question the nature of justice and whether or not genuine justice indeed exists, and the events of the film that lead Ludlow to his moment of doubt tend to emphasize the widening class and generational schisms in the U.S. and how legal justice is often applied differently based on certain demographics.
The DVD edition of RED presents the film in anamorphic widescreen, and the digital transfer is beautiful (which shouldn't be surprising, since the film itself was shot in HD digital video). The disc is short on extras, offering only a brief but interesting interview with star Brian Cox and a few deleted scenes. Still, RED is an intense, engaging film that contains some outstanding performances, and that alone makes the DVD worth amazon.com's price of admission.
on November 6, 2008
I've read only two Jack Ketchum novels, the writer on who's book this film was adapted. Both were the Off novels which read like The Hills Have Eyes with brutality and suspense handed out in something that plays like a really good explotaiton horror piece. Ketchum's work has started being adapted a lot with the Off series next after this film, The Lost and The Girl Next Door. From Ketchum's work I'll admit that I never expected something like this though as its not a lurid piece and I found it a rather interesting spin on the idea of the revenge thriller.
Bear in mind that this film is not an Oldboy or Man on Fire. It begins with the main character Avery Ludlow being confronted by the three youths, Danny and Harold and their friend Pete. Danny a bully with a gun wanting to shoot something taunts Avery before shooting Red, Ludlows old dog. Ludlow angered by the shooting and wanting an apology goes to Danny's father Michael McCormack who taking the word of his son over the old man basically tells him off. But Avery wants whats right. He takes his problem to the law who can't do anything about the matter and tell him that Michael's Lawyers can keep Danny from facing any kind of punishment. He gets help from a journalist and soon Danny and Michael are both threatening violence. Soon backed into corner and harrassed Avery takes matters further inciting violence from the McCormacks despite Harold the younger bullied son who wants to do whats right.
I really liked this film far much more than I would. Theres a lot to be said from the simplicity of the direction to the characterization of the three main characters. Most of Ketchum's work I'd best describe as lurid but suprisingly the script from the writer of The Grudge remakes keeps things simple building things up like a slow burn letting the action intensify. It also helps I suppose with the actors involved. Tom Sizemore and Noel Fisher are fine as the villains who are more bullies who don't want to admit weakness to an old man. But this is Brian Cox's film in my opinion. Cox is one of the best living actors in my opinion someone who its always a pleasure to watch be it in Super Troopers or Manhunter-where his performance as Hannibal Lector trounces Anthony Hopkins easily. Here he presents an earnest old man who doesn't want the violence that happens but won't let the McCormacks have their way. Its one of the better performances of its kind nicely dialed down but still capable of anger. I'll say one thing though. Theres a monologue delivered by Cox in the middle of the film which to me was one of the best moments of any film this year. Its a quiet moment where He delivers a small speech about his family that doesn't revert to flashback but quietly explores his modest home ending on his face as He relates a tragedy that befell him. Its a great scene earnestly directed and fits with the end as Avery admits the absurdity of the situation.
I enjoyed the film greatly but there was a lack of features that made the disc somewhat of a disappointment. I wanted to say that I highly regard the film but with the lack of features there was also a problem with severe combing in the image that was through the majority of the film which is why I only rated it a four. I'd say rent the film and wait for the price to drop if you like it. But do see the movie.
on February 22, 2014
When I was young the country was full of older men with stern values but a willingness to give second chances – the sort who, if you played a prank, would make you work as punishment but then would pay you for what you did.
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.
on March 2, 2011
The main issue of this film is HOW to instill some moral center in one's children so they will become honest, responsible adults. RED presents us with the problem and shows us two wrong answers--and also has the main character, Avery (played by Brian Cox), tell us about a third example of failure: his own, with his own older son.
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.
on November 25, 2014
One of the best indies of recent years, not to be confused with the Bruce Willis series of the same title. Brian Cox gives a superb
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.
on June 13, 2011
Brian Cox does a fine job as Avery Ludlow, widower, shop keeper, owner of Red, a mature dog who was given to Avery as a puppy, a past gift from his deceased wife.
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.
RED (2008, 96 minutes) is a tour de force for British actor Brian Cox, who plays the gentle Oregon store owner/widower Avery "Av" Allen Ludlow. After the killing of his dog, Red, Ludlow goes on a sort of quest, first for the truth instead of lies, an apology and an explanation - later for a reckoning of some kind. Not so silly as it sounds, because his beloved dog is representative of a great deal.
With no help from the law (the great Richard Riehle who I am always confusing with Brain Doyle-Murray) and with the two McCormack brothers running around free (the evil Danny, played by Noel Fisher, and hapless brother Harold played by Kyle Gallner) ... what is a man to do?
This amazing film, with a haunting soundtrack that had hammer-dulcimer music to add to its emotional creepiness, is meant to play out slight differently according to each viewer. While it bothered me to see the film succumb to the obvious fade-to-red a few times (something I just saw copied in a more recent film), the acting is pitch-perfect, the emotions very harrowing, and the story properly balanced.
Cox, as a former soldier, war vet and hero, is slowly and horribly pushed over the edge of reason toward the film's end when the little bastard burns down his store. Cox's eyes flash with the anger, terror, desperation and insanity that no one deserves. The poor man is still searching for the reason his older son took the lives of his younger son and wife. At its worst, the only thing I can say of it is it reminds me of some of the best drama of the 1970s.
This represents one pillar of such-like films Harry Brown and Gran Torino (see my reviews for those) and I feel now that there is a complete triumvirate with RED. Talk about sad: cinema today is simply unbalanced, unfair and stupid. The budget of this movie was $2.5 million but it grossed less than $3,200. That's right: less than $3,200.
Not to be confused with 2010's comic action film Red (in which Cox also starred, see my review), this has the terrific talents of Tom Sizemore, Robert Englund, Shiloh Fernandez, and Amanda Plummer.
I actually avoided this film for some time for two reasons-A) I loved the book, and I was afraid of it being messed with, and B) I can't stand Lucky McKee.
I must say that I'm awfully glad I watched it finally, as I thought it was great. What really sold me was Brian Cox, who I thought did a wonderful job. I've always liked him, and this showed he can really carry a movie himself. In fact, watching this I was reminded of an idea I had years ago(though admittedly not an original one) of an awards show that would give film awards to those films the Academy pays no attention to come Oscar time.
Anyway, I'm not gonna rehash the plot here, but I'll say that this movie stuck to the book very well, and it really had no reason not to as the book was rather straightforward. One of Ketchum's tamer books actually. But tamer certainly doesn't mean wimpy or uninteresting, mind you!
This is a movie that pisses you off, and by that I mean that you're so on Avery's side that you can feel his frustration and you almost clench your fists in anger at the fact that nothing seems to be done about Avery's situation. And lets not forget Sizemore and his son, who are weaselly jagoffs who know they've done wrong but simply do not care.
You're hoping that Avery goes into full on Bronson mode and makes mincemeat out of everyone who stands in his path to justice, but this isn't a vigilante action film. Though a situation like the one in this movie can only seemingly end in violence, it's kept on a more realistic level, and that packs more of an emotional punch. After all this is more or less a drama.
Very good movie, and I'm glad I watched it. I guess I'll have to give McKee his due!
on November 21, 2015
The cover is deceiving if you think this is some kind of violent special effects over produced piece of hollyweird trash. This is a rare
classic old style good vs evil type movie that has great writing and acting and directing and good moral theme between right and wrong.
Cox and Sizemore are both great in theses roles and too bad for Sizemore he hasn't had more acting roles to match his talents. The
guy who played 'Freddy Kruger' killer plays one of the fathers of the kids in this movie and shows his acting skills here too. This is a
great movie for kids and young adults that you should and must take responsibility for things you do in life no matter how big or small.
There are a few curse words but they are used in the proper way and most kids have heard these words anyway in this liberal world.