“This film misses the mark in terms of excitement”
IDA RED (2021)
One thing's for sure: Josh Hartnett is every inch the star he was back in his '90s teen heartthrob days, and Oscar winner Melissa Leo gives her all as an ailing crime boss sentenced to a life behind bars. I just wish both actors had been given more of a chance to shine. It would have made the film much more watchable.
Ida Red was written and directed by John Swab, a filmmaker who has taken on several low-budget dramas over the years in varying roles. If he was going for grit - that's what he got. Most of the film's dialogue and soundtrack felt like an R-rated episode of Law & Order as opposed to a movie. I can't pinpoint a single directorial choice that was bad, but I can't think of any that were good, either - because all in all the film is so forgettable.
The matriarch of an Oklahoma crime family (Melissa Leo) is behind bars with a terminal illness. She implores her son Wyatt (Josh Hartnett) to do one last dirty job - and hopefully win back her freedom.
There is plenty of family drama intertwined, and a second-act reveal that (I think) is meant to be shocking. However, by the time the twist rolls around, you simply haven't become endeared enough to any of the characters to really care.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Josh Hartnett has developed a noticeable Brad Pitt-esque screen presence that really works for him, and I wish the story had been more fitting of his talents. Frank Grillo is peak psychopath in this film; he nails the creep factor in the role of Wyatt's deranged, homicidal uncle.
Melissa Leo is good, and a final-act monologue nearly stirs up a bit of emotional empathy that had been lacking in the first 90 minutes. Sadly it is just too little, too late.
Sofia Hublitz, who already seems to be getting typecast as a "troubled teen," holds her own in the role of a... well... troubled teen.
I have no big qualms with any of the performances. It's too bad the story wasn't more memorable and worthy of their talents.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Much like the other aspects of this film, nothing stands out as good or bad in this department. The cinematographer plays it safe, and set decoration/wardrobe feels like any other low budget western drama.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The soundtrack is absolutely the weirdest aspect of this film, and a great example of why sometimes less is more. The intense background music is laid on thick from the beginning - even in scenes that don't warrant it and could really benefit from silence. There are a couple of oddly placed popular '80s songs featured prominently in a way that is supposed to make the scenes edgy, but the end result is a whole lot of awkwardness.
This film misses the mark in terms of excitement, but a talented cast holds its overall appeal together by a thread. I truly hope John Swab is given more opportunities to grow as a writer and director. Overall, Ida Red is one of the most "meh" films I've seen in a while. If you're a huge fan of slow-paced, gritty melodramas it may be for you. Otherwise, I'd skip it.
Saban Films will release the action/crime/thriller IDA RED in Theaters, On Digital and On Demand on November 5, 2021