What You Need To Know:
RED comes from a novel by Jack Ketchum. The movie is very slow. The filmmakers have not done the necessary work to translate the novel into a movie. While it is a moral movie, Avery walks close to the line of revenge by not letting the issue go. Another negative element is extensive foul language, but there are no scenes of sex or nudity. When his dog is shot, Avery tenderly calls on Jesus. The novel may be more engaging than the movie. Perhaps there, readers can better understand Avery’s character.
(BB, C, LLL, VVV, A, MM) Strong moral worldview as man seeks justice for teenagers shooting his dog, plus protagonist calls on Jesus at one point; 43 obscenities and 17 profanities, mostly from the bad guys; very strong violence includes dog shot offscreen, characters in gunfight resulting in two deaths, man’s ear shot off, fist fight; no sexual content; no nudity; beer drinking; no smoking; and, arson, shooting, attempted robbery, injustice because of political influence, negative father figure.
RED is the story of Avery, an older man who loses his only friend, his dog, to a random act of violence by a group of teenagers. Avery at first is not out for revenge, but rather justice. He wants the teenage boys to simply admit to shooting the dog. However, two of the boys are brothers, and their father is a wealthy, immoral businessman. The boys deny shooting the dog, and the father backs them, though he doesn’t believe them. Avery tries the sheriff and even the law to get justice, but the influential father blocks him at every turn.
The more Avery is blocked from receiving justice or at least an apology, the more that Avery is committed to try to do something about it. Avery involves a local TV journalist to try to capture public sentiment. Avery’s mindset is revealed as he relates to the journalist that he had a wayward teenage son who was troubled. In a rage, the son killed both his brother and his mother. Avery is motivated in part because he wants to see the teenage boys learn to take responsibility for their actions and not to do what his own son did.
Avery follows Danny, the boy who did the actual shooting and sees that he is a troublemaker and a hot head. When Avery sees that Danny is especially agitated, he confronts Danny in public to get Danny to take a swing at him. He does, but Avery is prepared and beats up Danny. He quietly explains to Danny that this is what he had coming to him for shooting his dog.
Avery thinks it’s now settled because he made Danny face consequences. However, Danny won’t let it go and sets fire to Avery’s store. Avery is upset and goes to Danny’s family to show the father the corpse of the dog, wanting them to experience the trauma he has experienced. This encounter turns bad as guns begin to fire. In the end, Avery states that he regrets not dropping the whole issue earlier.
The movie itself is very slow with many scenes of characters simply talking, except for one gunfight scene at the end. Avery explains about his own sons not in flashback, but in a very long monologue. The filmmakers have not done the necessary work to translate the novel into a movie. Brian Cox as Avery does a good job, but most viewers probably will never really care too much about him. After awhile his quest for justice borders on revenge, with which the viewers will not sympathize. The score was unusual in that it sounded more like a score for a horror movie than a gripping drama.
Ultimately, RED is a moral movie in that it makes viewers root for justice to be done. However, Avery walks close to the line of not letting the issue go nor “turning the other cheek.” There is much sudden violence in the end, but there are no scenes of sex or nudity. There is much foul language, but usually from the mouths of the teenage boys. When his dog is shot, Avery does tenderly call on Jesus. It may be that the book is more engaging than the movie, and perhaps in the novel readers can better understand Avery’s character.