Red (Diesen, McKee, 2008)

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After a young sociopath kills his old dog for no apparent reason, Avery Ludlow (Brian Cox), an elderly Veteran and shop owner, sets out to bring the teen and his friends to justice. The legal routes predictably fail since the boy’s wealthy and influential father (Tom Sizemore) holds sway over key institutions, leaving Avery an increasingly enraged and desperate man. Red refers to the Avery’s canine companion and the rivers of blood which will flow in his name. But the film uses this pointless act of violence as a precursor to Avery’s own parallel history of pain and suffering, one in which his dog was a direct link. Old wounds resurface as Avery confronts a familiar evil, something born from paternal failure and inaction. One particularly revealing scene between Avery and a news reporter (Kim Dickens) compresses a lifetime of anger and regret into a few haunting memories. While Red flounders during its contrived final bloodbath, the film excels as a character study of a man longing for closure who finds the horrors of vengeance instead. And Brian Cox, finally getting a lead role he deserves, personifies a juxtaposition of fractured guilt and compassion, most strikingly in one fleeting embrace of Red’s broken and bloodied body alongside a serene, glimmering lake. The impending ripples reverberate a deep response.

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