Brian (X-Men 2) Cox plays a lonely widower who goes out fishing one day with his trusty old dog Red. Trouble brews when a privileged young upstart and his gang of miscreants come along and tries to rob Cox. When Cox doesn’t have anything of value, the teen blows away Red with his shotgun. Grief stricken, Cox turns to the teen’s wealthy father (Tom Sizemore) and asks him to make amends but he lies for his son and dismisses Cox’s claims. He then gets a sympathetic anchorwoman (Kim Dickens) to run a story about old Red which infuriates the teens who throw a rock through his window. Cox’s confrontations with the boys become increasingly more violent and personal until finally guns are drawn and bodies start dropping.
Red tells a story about the consequences of violence and the failure of taking responsibility for one’s actions. The flick could’ve easily veered into Death Wish territory but directors Lucky (May) McKee and Trygve Allister Diesen keeps things grounded firmly in reality and never rely on cheap shock tactics. The opening scene is a real grabber and the directing duo does a great job at showing the escalation of Cox’s retaliation against the boys. It’s only near the end, when the directors opt for an ambiguous No Country for Old Men type conclusion does the film falter. We the audience, have been waiting 90 minutes for the teens to get their comeuppance and when the time comes to pay the piper we unfortunately kinda get shortchanged. I know, I know, vengeance isn’t the point. The point is that things never should’ve gone that far if only the boy had ‘fessed up to what he did, but still.
Cox gives a riveting performance, one of the best of the year, and Red is worth catching solely on the strength of his acting chops here. Sizemore also does some fine low key work in the film and shows that he doesn’t need a bunch of smack and hookers to make him a good actor. I also got a kick out of seeing Robert Englund and Amanda Plummer playing Grade A white trash and it was also good to see Ashley (Hellraiser) Laurence looking foxy as ever as Sizemore’s abused wife.